THE UNIFORM EDITION OF
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WORKS BY J. M. BARKIS.
THE LITTLE WHITE BIRD.
AULD LIGHT IDYLLS.
WHEN A MAN'S SINGLE.
A WINDOW IN THRUMS.
MY LADY NICOTINE.
PETER PAN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS
PETE? ANS'SN^^ *"****-
Illustrated bv F. D BEDFORD
PETER PAN AND WENDY.
Illustrated by MABEL Lucm ATTWELU
THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTOH.
Illustrated by HUGH THOMSON.
Illustrated by HUGH THOMSON.
THE PLAYS OF J. M. BARRIE.
ECHOES OF THE WAR.
THE PROFESSOR'S LOYE STORY.
THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTOH.
WHAT EVERY WOMAN KNOWS.
A KISS FOR CINDERELLA.
THE TWELVE POUND LOOK. Etc.
THE KIRR1EMVIR EDITION OF THE
WORKS OF J. M. BARRIE.
In sets of Ten Volumes.
AULD LIGHT IDYLLS.
AN EDINBURGH "ELEVEN.
A WINDOW IN THRUMS.
WHEN A MAN'S SINGLE.
MY LADY NICOTINE.
THE LITTLE MINISTER.
THE LITTLE WHITE BIRD.
PETER AND WENDY.
TOMMY AND GRI2EL.
LONDON : HODDER AND STOUGHTON, LTD,
THE PLAYS OF
J. M. BARRIE
AND OTHER PLAYS
HODDER AND STOUGHTON
Printed in 1921
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK ... 3
THE WILL 133
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
If quite convenient (as they say about cheques) you
are to conceive that the scene is laid in your own
house, and that Harry Sims is you. Perhaps the
ornamentation of the house is a trifle ostentatious,
but if you cavil at that we are willing to re-decorate :
you don't get out of being Harry Sims on a mere
matter of plush and dados. It pleases us to make
him a city man, but (rather than lose you) he can be
turned with a scrape of the pen into a K.C., fashion-
able doctor, Secretary of State, or what you will. We
conceive him of a pleasant rotundity with a thick red
neck, but we shall waive that point if you know him
to be thin.
It is that day in your career when everything went
wrong just when everything seemed to be superlatively
In Harry's case it was a woman who did the
mischief. She came to him in his great hour and told
him -she did not admire him. Of course he turned
her out of the house and was soon himself again, but
4 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
it spoilt the morning for him. This is the subject
of the play, and quite enough too.
Harry is to receive the honour of knighthood in
a few days, and we discover him in the sumptuous
4 snuggery ' of his home in Kensington (or is it
Westminster?), rehearsing the ceremony with his
wife. They have been at it all the morning, a pleasing
occupation. Mrs. Sims (as we may call her for the
last time, as it were, and strictly as a good-natured
joke) is wearing her presentation gown, and personates
the august one who is about to dub her Harry knight.
She is seated regally. Her jewelled shoulders pro-
claim aloud her husband's generosity. She must
be an extraordinarily proud and happy woman, yet
she has a drawn face and shrinking ways as if there
were some one near her of whom she is afraid. She
claps her hands, as the signal to Harry. He enters
bowing, and with a graceful swerve of the leg. He is
only partly in costume, the sword and the real stockings
not having arrived yet. With a gliding motion that
is only delayed while one leg makes up on the other,
he reaches his wife, and, going on one knee, raises
her hand superbly to his lips. She taps him on the
shoulder with a paper-knife and says huskily, ' Rise,
Sir Harry. 1 He rises, bows, and glides about the
room, going on his knees to various articles of furniture,
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 5
and rising from each a knight. It is a radiant
domestic scene, and Harry is as dignified as if he
knew that royalty was rehearsing it at the other end.
SIR HARRY (complacently). Did that seem all
right, eh ?
LADY SIMS (much relieved). I think perfect.
SIR HARRY. But was it dignified ?
LADY SIMS. Oh, very. And it will be still
more so when you have the sword.
SIR HARRY. The sword will lend it an air.
There are really the five moments (suiting
the action to the word) the glide the dip; the
kiss the tap and you back out a knight.
It's short, but it's a very beautiful ceremony.
(Kindly) Anything you can suggest ?
LADY SIMS. No oh no. (Nervously, seeing
him pause to kiss the tassel of a cushion) You
don't think you have practised till you know
what to do almost too well ?
(He has been in a blissful temper, but such
niggling criticism would try any man.)
SIR HARRY. I do not. Don't talk nonsense.
Wait till your opinion is asked for.
LADY SIMS (abashed). I 'm sorry, Harry. (A
6 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
perfect butler appears and presents a card.) ' The
Flora Type-Writing Agency.'
SIR HARRY. Ah, yes. I telephoned them to
send some one. A woman, I suppose, Tombes ?
TOMBES. Yes, Sir Harry.
SIR HARRY. Show her in here. (He has very
lately become a stickler for etiquette.) And,
Tombes, strictly speaking, you know, I am not
Sir Harry till Thursday.
TOMBES. Beg pardon, sir, but it is such a
satisfaction to us.
SIR HARRY (good-naturedly). Ah, they like
it downstairs, do they ?
TOMBES (unbending). Especially the females,
SIR HARRY. Exactly. You can show her in,
Tombes. (The butler departs on his mighty
task.) You can tell the woman what she is
wanted for, Emmy, while I change. (He is too
modest to boast about himself, and prefers to keep
a wife in the house for that purpose.) You can
tell her the sort of things about me that will
come better from you. (Smiling happily) You
heard what Tombes said, ' Especially the
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 7
females.' And he is right. Success ! The
women like it even better than the men. And
rightly. For they share. You share, Lady
Sims. Not a woman will see that gown without
being sick with envy of it. I know them. Have
all our lady friends in to see it. It will make
them ill for a week.
(These sentiments carry him off light-
heartedly, and presently the disturbing
element is shown in. She is a mere
typist, dressed in uncommonly good taste,
but at contemptibly small expense, and
she is carrying her typewriter in a
friendly way rather than as a badge of
slavery, as of course it is. Her eye is
clear ; and in odd contrast to LADY SIMS,
she is self-reliant and serene.)
KATE (respectfully, but she should have waited
to be spoken to). Good morning, madam.
LADY SIMS (in her nervous way, and scarcely
noticing that the typist is a little too ready with her
tongue). Good morning. (As a first impres-
sion she rather likes the woman, and the woman,
though it is scarcely worth mentioning, rather
8 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
likes her. LADY SIMS has a maid for buttoning
and unbuttoning her, and probably another for
waiting on the maid, and she gazes with a little
envy perhaps at a woman who does things for
herself.) Is that the type-writing machine ?
KATE (who is getting it ready for use). Yes
(not 4 Yes, madam? as it ought to be). I suppose
if I am to work here I may take this off. I get
on better without it. (She is referring to her hat.)
LADY SIMS. Certainly. (But the hat is already
off.) I ought to apologise for my gown. I am
to be presented this week, and I was trying it on.
(Her tone is not really apologetic. She is rather
clinging to, the glory of her gown, wistfully, as if
not absolutely certain, you know, thai it is a glory.)
KATE. It is beautiful, if I may presume to say
so. (She frankly admires it. She probably has
a best, and a second best of her own : that sort of
LADY SIMS (with a flush of pride in the gown).
Yes, it is very beautiful. (The beauty of it gives
her courage.) Sit down, please.
KATE (the sort of woman who would have sat
down in any case). I suppose it is some copying
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 9
you want done ? I got no particulars. I was
told to come to this address, but that was all.
LADY SIMS (almost with the humility of a
servant). Oh, it is not work for me, it is for my
husband, and what he needs is not exactly
copying. (Swelling, for she is proud of HARRY.)
He wants a number of letters answered hun-
dreds of them letters and telegrams of con-
KATE (as if it were all in the day's work). Yes ?
LADY SIMS (remembering that HARRY expects
every wife to do her duty). My husband is a
remarkable man. He is about to be knighted.
(Pause, but KATE does not fall to the floor.) He
is to be knighted for his services to (on reflec-
tion) for his services. (She is conscious that she
is not doing HARRY justice.) He can explain it
so much better than I can.
KATE (in her business-like way). And I am
to answer the congratulations ?
LADY SIMS (afraid that it will be a hard task).
KATE (blithely). It is work I have had some
experience of. (She proceeds to type.)
10 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
LADY SIMS. But you can't begin till you
know what he wants to say.
KATE. Only a specimen letter. Won't it be
the usual thing ?
LADY SIMS (to whom this is a new idea). Is
there a usual thing ?
KATE. Oh, yes.
(She continues to type, and LADY SIMS,
half-mesmerised, gazes at her nimble
fingers. The useless woman watches the
useful one 9 and she sighs, she could not
LADY SIMS. How quickly you do it. It must
be delightful to be able to do something, and to
do it well.
KATE (thankfully). Yes, it is delightful.
LADY SIMS (again remembering the source of all
her greatness). But, excuse me, I don't think
that will be any use. My husband wants me
to explain to you that his is an exceptional case.
He did not try to get this honour in any way.
It was a complete surprise to him
KATE (who is a practical Kate and no dealer in
sarcasm). That is what I have written.
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 11
LADY SIMS (in whom sarcasm would meet a
dead wall). But how could you know ?
KATE. I only guessed.
LADY SIMS. Is that the usual thing ?
KATE. Oh, yes.
LADY SIMS. They don't try to get it ?
KATE. I don't know. That is what we are
told to say in the letters.
(To her at present the only important thing
about the letters is that they are ten shillings
LADY SIMS (returning to surer ground). I
should explain that my husband is not a man
who cares for honours. So long as he does his
KATE. Yes, I have been putting that in.
LADY SIMS. Have you ? But he particularly
wants it to be known that he would have de-
clined a title were it not
KATE. I have got it here.
LADY SIMS. What have you got ?
KATE (reading). 4 Indeed I would have asked
to be allowed to decline had it not been that
I want to please my wife.'
12 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
LADY SIMS (heavily). But how could you know
it was that ?
KATE. Is it ?
LADY SIMS (who after all is the one with the right
to ask questions). Do they all accept it for
that reason ?
KATE. That is what we are told to say in the
LADY SIMS (thoughtlessly). It is quite as if
you knew my husband.
KATE. I assure you, I don't even know his
LADY SIMS (suddenly showing that she knows
him). Oh, he wouldn't like that.
(And it is here that HARRY re-enters in his
city garments, looking so gay, feeling so
jolly that we bleed for him. However, the
annoying KATHERINE is to get a shock also.)
LADY SIMS. This is the lady, Harry.
SIR HARRY (shooting his cuffs). Yes, yes.
Good morning, my dear.
(Then they see each other, and their mouths
open, but not for words. After the first
surprise KATE seems to find some humour
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 13
in the situation, but HARRY lowers like a
LADY SIMS (who has seen nothing). I have been
trying to explain to her
SIR HARRY. Eh what ? (He controls him-
self.) Leave it to me, Emmy ; I '11 attend
(LADY SIMS goes, with a dread fear that
somehow she has vexed her lord, and then
HARRY attends to the intruder.)
SIR HARRY (with concentrated scorn). You !
KATE (as if agreeing with him). Yes, it 's
SIR HARRY. The shamelessness of your daring
to come here.
KATE. Believe me, it is not less a surprise to
me than it is to you. I was sent here in the
ordinary way of business. I was given only
the number of the house. I was not told
SIR HARRY (withering her). The ordinary way
of business ! This is what you have fallen to
a typist !
KATE (unwithered). Think of it.
14 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
SIR HARRY. After going through worse straits,
I '11 be bound.
KATE (with some grim memories). Much worse
SIR HARRY (alas, laughing coarsely). My con-
KATE. Thank you, Harry.
SIR HARRY (who is annoyed, as any man would
be, not to find her abject). Eh ? What was that
you called me, madam ?
KATE. Isn't it Harry ? On my soul, \I
SIR HARRY. It isn't Harry to you. My name
is Sims, if you please.
KATE. Yes, I had not forgotten that. It was
my name, too, you see.
SIR HARRY (in his best manner). It was your
name till you forfeited the right to bear it.
SIR HARRY (gloating). I was furious to find
you here, but on second thoughts it pleases me.
(From the depths of his moral nature) There is
a grim justice in this.
KATE (sympathetically). Tell me ?
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 15
SIR HARRY. Do you know what you were
brought here to do ?
KATE. I have just been learning. You have
been made a knight, and I was summoned to
answer the messages of congratulation.
SIR HARRY. That 's it, that 's it. You come
on this day as my servant !
KATE. I, who might have been Lady Sims.
SIR HARRY. And you are her typist instead.
And she has four men-servants. Oh, I am glad
you saw her in her presentation gown.
KATE. I wonder if she would let me do her
washing, Sir Harry ?
(Her want of taste disgusts him.)
SIR HARRY (with dignity). You can go. The
mere thought that only a few flights of stairs
separates such as you from my innocent chil-
(He will never know why a new light has
come into her face.)
KATE (slowly). You have children ?
SIR HARRY (inflated). Two.
(He wonders why she is so long in answer-
16 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
KATE (resorting to impertinence), Such a nice
SIR HARRY (with an extra turn of the screw).
KATE. Successful in everything. Are they
like you, Sir Harry ?
SIR HARRY (expanding). They are very like me.
KATE. That 's nice.
(Even on such a subject as this she can be
SIR HARRY. Will you please to go.
KATE. Heigho ! What shall I say to my
SIR HARRY. That is no affair of mine.
KATE. What will you say to Lady Sims ?
SIR HARRY. I flatter myself that whatever
I say, Lady Sims will accept without comment.
(She smiles, heaven knows why, unless her
next remark explains it.)
KATE. Still the same Harry.
SIR HARRY. What do you mean ?
KATE. Only that you have the old confidence
in your profound knowledge of the sex.
SIR HARRY (beginning to think as little of her
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 17
intellect as of her morals). I suppose I know
KATE (hopelessly dense). I suppose so. I was
only remembering that you used to think you
knew her in the days when I was the lady. (He
is merely wasting his time on her, and he indicates
the door. She is not sufficiently the lady to retire
worsted.) Well, good-bye, Sir Harry. Won't
you ring, and the four men-servants will show
me out ?
(But he hesitates.)
SIR HARRY (in spite of himself). As you are
here, there is something I want to get out of
you. (Wishing he could ask it less eagerly)
Tell me, who was the man ?
(The strange woman it is evident now that
she has always been strange to him smiles
KATE. You never found out ?
SIR HARRY. I could never be sure.
KATE (reflectively). I thought that would
SIR HARRY (sneering). It 's plain that he soon
18 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
KATE. Very soon.
SIR HARRY. As I could have told you. (But
still she surveys him with the smile of Mona Lisa.
The badgered man has to entreat.) Who was
he ? It was fourteen years ago, and cannot
matter to any of us now. Kate, tell me who
he was ?
(It is his first youthful moment, and
perhaps because of that she does not wish
to hurt him.)
KATE (shaking a motherly head). Better not
SIR HARRY. I do ask. Tell me.
KATE. It is kinder not to tell you.
SIR HARRY (violently). Then, by James, it
was one of my own pals. Was it Bernard
Roche ? (She shakes her head.) It may have
been some one who comes to my house still.
|KATE. I think not. (Reflecting) Fourteen
years ! You found my letter that night when
you went home ?
SIR HARRY (impatient). Yes.
KATE. I propped it against the decanters.
I thought you would be sure to see it there. It
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 19
was a room not unlike this, and the furniture
was arranged in the same attractive way. How
it all comes back to me. Don't you see me,
Harry, in hat and cloak, putting the letter there,
taking a last look round, and then stealing out
into the night to meet
SIR HARRY. Whom ?
KATE. Him. Hours pass, no sound in the
room but the tick-tack of the clock, and then
about midnight you return alone. You take
SIR HARRY (gruffly). I wasn't alone.
KATE (the picture spoilt). No ? oh. (Plain-
tively) Here have I all these years been conceiving
it wrongly. (She studies his face.) I believe
something interesting happened ?
SIR HARRY (growling). Something confound-
KATE (coaxing). Do tell me.
SIR HARRY. We won't go into that. Who
was the man ? Surely a husband has a right
to know with whom his wife bolted.
KATE (who is detestably ready with her tongue).
Surely the wife has a right to know how he took
it. (The woman's love of bargaining comes to her
20 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
aid.) A fair exchange. You tell me what
happened, and I will tell you who he was.
SIR HARRY. You will ? Very well. (It is
the first point on which they have agreed, and,
forgetting himself, he takes a place beside her on
the fire-seat. He is thinking only of what he is to
tell her, but she, woman-like, is conscious of their
KATE (tastelessly). Quite like old times. (He
moves away from her indignantly.) Go on,
SIR HARRY (who has a manful shrinking from
saying anything that is to his disadvantage).
Well, as you know, I was dining at the club
SIR HARRY. Jack Lamb drove me home.
Mabbett Green was with us, and I asked them
to come in for a few minutes.
KATE. Jack Lamb, Mabbett Green ? I think
I remember them. Jack was in Parliament.
SIR HARRY. No, that was Mabbett. They
came into the house with me and (with sudden
horror) was it him ?
THE TWELVE POUND LOOK 21
KATE (bewildered). Who ?
SIR HARRY. Mabbett ?
KATE. What ?
SIR HARRY. The man ?
KATE. What man ? (Understanding) Oh no.
I thought you said he came into the house with
SIR HARRY. It might have been a blind.
KATE. Well, it wasn't. Go on.
SIR HARRY. They came in to finish a talk we
had been having at the club.
KATE. An interesting talk, evidently.
SIR HARRY. The papers had been full that
evening of the elopement of some countess
woman with a fiddler. What was her name ?
KATE. Does it matter ?
SIR HARRY. No. (Thus ends the countess.)
We had been discussing the thing and (he pulls
a wry face) and I had been rather warm
KATE (with horrid relish). I begin to see.
You had been saying it served the husband right,
that the man who could not look after his wife
deserved to lose her. It was one of your favour-
ite subjects. Oh* Harry, say it was that !
22 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
SIR HARRY (sourly). It may have been some-
thing like that.
KATE. And all the time the letter was there,
waiting ; and none of you knew except the
clock. Harry, it is sweet of you to tell me.
(His face is not sweet. The illiterate woman has
used the wrong adjective.) I forget what I said
precisely in the letter.
SIR HARRY (pulverising her). So do I. But
I have it still.
KATE (not pulverised). Do let me see it
again. (She has observed his eye wandering to
SIR HARRY. You are welcome to it as a gift.
(The fateful letter, a poor little dead thing, is
brought to light from a locked drawer.)
KATE (taking it). Yes, this is it. Harry,
how you did crumple it ! (She reads, not with-
out curiosity.) ' Dear husband I call you that
for the last time I am off. I am what you
call making a bolt of it. I won't try to excuse
myself nor to explain, for you would not accept
the excuses nor understand the explanation.
It will be a little shock to you, but only to your
THE TWELVE POUND LOOK 3
pride ; what will astound you is that any woman
could be such a fool as to leave such a man as
you. I am taking nothing with me that belongs
to you. May you be very happy. Your un-
grateful KATE. P.S. You need not try to
find out who he is. You will try, but you
won't succeed.' (She folds the nasty little thing
up.) I may really have it for my very own ?
SIR HARRY. You really may.
KATE (impudently). If you would care for
a typed copy ?
SIR HARRY (in a voice with which he used to
frighten his grandmother). None of your sauce.
(Wincing) I had to let them see it in the end.
KATE. I can picture Jack Lamb eating it.
SIR HARRY. A penniless parson's daughter.
KATE. That is all I was.
SIR HARRY. We searched for the two of
you high and low.
KATE. Private detectives ?
SIR HARRY. They couldn't get on the track
KATE (smiling). No ?
SIR HARRY. But at last the courts let me
24 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
serve the papers by advertisement on a man
unknown, and I got my freedom.
KATE. So I saw. It was the last I heard of
SIR HARRY (each word a blow for her). And I
married again just as soon as ever I could.
KATE. They say that is always a compli-
ment to the first wife.
SIR HARRY (violently). I showed them.
KATE. You soon let them see that if one
woman was a fool, you still had the pick of the
basket to choose from.
SIR HARRY. By James, I did.
KATE (bringing him to earth again). But still,
you wondered who he was.
SIR HARRY. I suspected everybody even
my pals. I felt like jumping at their throats
and crying, ' It 's you ! }
KATE. You had been so admirable to me,
an instinct told you that I was sure to choose
another of the same.
SIR HARRY. I thought, it can't be money,
so it must be looks. Some dolly face. (He
stares at her in perplexity.) He must have had
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 25
something wonderful about him to make you
willing to give up all that you had with me.
KATE (as if he was the stupid one). Poor
SIR HARRY. And it couldn't have been
going on for long, for I would have noticed the
change in you.
KATE. Would you ?
SIR HARRY. I knew you so well.
KATE. You amazing man.
SIR HARRY. So who was he ? Out with it.
KATE. You are determined to know ?
SIR HARRY. Your promise. You gave your
KATE. If I must (She is the villain of
the piece, but it must be conceded that in this matter
she is reluctant to pain him.) I am sorry I pro-
mised. (Looking at him steadily.) There was
no one, Harry ; no one at all.
SIR HARRY (rising). If you think you can
play with me
KATE. I told you that you wouldn't like it.
SIR HARRY (rasping). It is unbelievable.
KATE. I suppose it is ; but it is true.
26 THE TWELVE POUND LOOK
SIR HARRY. Your letter itself gives you the
KATE. That was intentional. I saw that
if the truth were known you might have a
difficulty in getting your freedom ; and as I
was getting mine it seemed fair that you should
have yours also. So I wrote my good-bye in
words that would be taken to mean what you
thought they meant, and I knew the law would
back you in your opinion. For the law, like you,
Harry, has a profound understanding of women.
SIR HARRY (trying to straighten himself). I
don't believe you yet.
KATE (looking not unkindly into the soul of
this man). Perhaps that is the best way to
take it. It is less unflattering than the truth.
But you were the only one. (Summing up her
life.) You sufficed.
SIR HARRY. Then what mad impulse
KATE. It was no impulse, Harry. I had
thought it out for a year.
SIR HARRY. A year ? (dazed). One would
think to hear you that I hadn't been a good
husband to you.
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 27
KATE (with a sad smile). You were a good
husband according to your lights.
SIR HARRY (stoutly). I think so.
KATE. And a moral man, and chatty, and
quite the philanthropist.
SIR HARRY (on sure ground). All women
KATE. How you loved me to be envied.
SIR HARRY. I swaddled you in luxury.
KATE (making her great revelation). That
SIR HARRY (blankly). What ?
KATE (who can be serene because it is all over).
How you beamed at me when I sat at the head
of your fat dinners in my fat jewellery, sur-
rounded by our fat friends.
SIR HARRY (aggrieved). They weren't so fat.
KATE (a side issue). All except those who
were so thin. Have you ever noticed, Harry,
that many jewels make women either in-
credibly fat or incredibly thin ?
SIR HARRY (shouting). I have not. (Is it
worth while to argue with her any longer?) We
had all the most interesting society of the day.
28 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
It wasn't only business men. There were
politicians, painters, writers
KATE. Only the glorious, dazzling successes.
Oh, the fat talk while we ate too much about
who had made a hit and who was slipping back,
and what the noo house cost and the noo motor
and the gold soup-plates, and who was to be
the noo knight.
SIB HARRY (who it will be observed is unanswer-
able from first to last). Was anybody getting on
better than me, and consequently you ?
KATE. Consequently me ! Oh, Harry, you
and your sublime religion.
SIR HARRY (honest heart). My religion ? I
never was one to talk about religion, but
KATE. Pooh, Harry, you don't even know
what your religion was and is and will be till
the day of your expensive funeral. (And here
is the lesson that life has taught her.) One's
religion is whatever he is most interested in,
and yours is Success.
SIR HARRY (quoting from his morning paper).
Ambition it is the last infirmity of noble minds.
KATE. Noble minds I
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 29
SIE HARRY (at last grasping what she is talking
about). You are not saying that you left me
because of my success ?
KATE. Yes, that was it. (And now she
stands revealed to him.) I couldn't endure it.
If a failure had come now and then but your
success was suffocating me. (She is rigid with
emotion.) The passionate craving I had to be
done with it, to find myself among people who
had not got on.
SIR HARRY (with proper spirit). There are
plenty of them.
KATE. There were none in our set. When
they began to go down-hill they rolled out of
SIR HARRY (clinching it). I tell you I am
worth a quarter of a million.
KATE (unabashed). That is what you are
worth to yourself. I '11 tell you what you are
worth to me : exactly twelve pounds. For I
made up my mind that I could launch myself
on the world alone if I first proved my mettle
by earning twelve pounds ; and as soon as I
had earned it I left you.
30 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
SIR HARRY (in the scales). Twelve pounds !
KATE. That is your value to a woman. If
she can't make it she has to stick to you.
SIR HARRY (remembering perhaps a rectory
garden). You valued me at more than that
when you married me.
KATE (seeing it also). Ah, I didn't know you
then. If only you had been a man, Harry.
SIR HARRY. A man ? What do you mean
by a man ?
KATE (leaving the garden), Haven't you
heard of them ? They are something fine ;
and every woman is loath to admit to herself
that her husband is not one. When she marries,
even though she has been a very trivial person,
there is in her some vague stirring toward a
worthy life, as well as a fear of her capacity
for evil. She knows her chance lies in him.
If there is something good in him, what is good
in her finds it, and they join forces against the
baser parts. So I didn't give you up willingly,
Harry. I invented all sorts of theories to
explain you. Your hardness I said it was a
fine want of mawkishness. Your coarseness
THE TWELVE-POUND|LOOK 31
I said it goes with strength. Your contempt
for the weak I called it virility. Your want
of ideals was clear-sightedness. Your ignoble
views of women I tried to think them funny.
Oh, I clung to you to save myself. But I had
to let go ; you had only the one quality, Harry,
success ; you had it so strong that it swallowed
all the others.
SIR HARRY (not to be diverted from the main
issue). How did you earn that twelve pounds ?
KATE. It took me nearly six months ; but
I earned it fairly. (She presses her hand on the
typewriter as lovingly as many a woman has
pressed a rose.) I learned this. I hired it and
taught myself. I got some work through a
friend, and with my first twelve pounds I paid
for my machine. Then I considered that I
was free to go, and I went.
SIR HARRY. All this going on in my house
while you were living in the lap of luxury !
(She nods.) By God, you were determined.
KATE (briefly). By God, I was.
SIR HARRY (staring). How you must have
32 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
KATE (smiling at the childish word). Not a
bit after I saw that there was a way out.
From that hour you amused me, Harry ; I
was even sorry for you, for I saw that you
couldn't help yourself. Success is just a fatal
SIR HARRY. Oh, thank you.
KATE (thinking, dear friends in front, of you
and me perhaps). Yes, and some of your most
successful friends knew it. One or two of them
used to look very sad at times, as if they thought
they might have come to something if they
hadn't got on.
SIR HARRY (who has a horror of sacrilege). The
battered crew you live among now what are
they but folk who have tried to succeed and
KATE. That 's it ; they try, but they fail.
SIR HARRY. And always will fail.
KATE. Always. Poor souls I say of them.
Poor soul they say of me. It keeps us human.
That is why I never tire of them.
SIR HARRY (comprehensively). Bah ! Kate,
I tell you I '11 be worth half a million yet.
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 33
KATE. I 'm sure you will. You 're getting
SIR HARRY. No, I 'm not.
KATE. What was the name of that fat old
fellow who used to fall asleep at our dinner-
SIR HARRY. If you mean Sir William
KATE. That was the man. Sir William was
to me a perfect picture of the grand success.
He had got on so well that he was very, very
stout, and when he sat on a chair it was thus
(her hands meeting in front of her) as if he were
holding his success together. That is what
you are working for, Harry. You will have that
and the half million about the same time.
SIR HARRY (who has surely been very patient).
Will you please to leave my house.
KATE (putting on her gloves, soiled things).
But don't let us part in anger. How do you
think I am looking, Harry, compared to the
dull, inert thing that used to roll round in your
padded carriages ?
SIR HARRY (in masterly fashion). I forget
34 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
what you were like. I 'm very sure you never
could have held a candle to the present Lady
KATE. That is a picture of her, is it not ?
SIR HARRY (seizing his chance again). In
her wedding-gown. Painted by an R.A.
KATE (wickedly). A knight ?
SIR HARRY (deceived). Yes.
KATE (who likes LADY SIMS : a piece of pre-
sumption on her part). It is a very pretty face.
SIR HARRY (with the pride of possession).
Acknowledged to be a beauty everywhere.
KATE. There is a merry look in the eyes,
and character in the chin.
SIR HARRY (like an auctioneer). Noted for
KATE. All her life before her when that was
painted. It is a spirituelle face too. (Suddenly
she turns on him with anger, for the first and only
time in the play.) Oh, Harry, you brute !
SIR HARRY (staggered). Eh ? What ?
KATE. That dear creature capable of becom-
ing a noble wife and mother she is the spirit-
less woman of no account that I saw here a
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 35
few minutes ago. I forgive you for myself,
for I escaped, but that poor lost soul, oh,
SIR HARRY (waving her to the door). I '11
thank you If ever there was a woman
proud of her husband and happy in her married
life, that woman is Lady Sims.
KATE. I wonder.
SIR HARRY. Then you needn't wonder.
KATE (slowly). If I was a husband it is my
advice to all of them I would often watch my
wife quietly to see whether the twelve-pound
look was not coming into her eyes. Two boys,
did you say, and both like you ?
SIR HARRY. What is that to you ?
KATE (with glistening eyes). I was only think-
ing that somewhere there are two little girls
who, when they grow up the dear, pretty
girls who are all meant for the men that don't
get on ! Well, good-bye, Sir Harry.
SIR HARRY (showing a little human weakness,
it is to be feared). Say first that you 're sorry.
KATE. For what ?
SIR HARRY. That you left me. Say you
36 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
regret it bitterly. You. know you do. (She
smiles and shakes her head. He is pettish. He
makes a terrible announcement.) You have
spoilt the day for me.
KATE (to hearten him). I am sorry for that ;
but it is only a pin -prick, Harry. I suppose
it is a little jarring in the moment of your
triumph to find that there is one old friend
who does not think you a success ; but you
will soon forget it. Who cares what a typist
SIR HARRY (heartened). Nobody. A typist
at eighteen shillings a week !
KATE (proudly). Not a bit of it, Harry. I
SIR HARRY (neatly). Magnificent !
(There is a timid knock at the door.)
LADY SIMS. May I come in ?
SIR HARRY (rather appealingly). It is Lady
KATE. I won't tell. She is afraid to come
into her husband's room without knocking !
SIR HARRY. She is not. (Uxoriously) Come
in, dearest. (Dearest enters carrying the sword.
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 37
She might have had the sense not to bring it in
while this annoying person is here.)
LADY SIMS (thinking she has brought her
welcome with her). Harry, the sword has come.
SIB HARRY (who will dote on it presently). Oh,
LADY SIMS. But I thought you were so
eager to practise with it.
(The person smiles at this. He wishes he
had not looked to see if she was smiling.)
SIR HARRY (sharply). Put it down.
(LADY SIMS flushes a little as she lays the
KATE (with her confounded courtesy). It is a
beautiful sword, if I may say so.
LADY SIMS (helped). Yes.
(The person thinks she can put him in the
wrong, does she ? He '// show her.)
SIR HARRY (with one eye on KATE). Emmy,
the one thing your neck needs is more jewels.
LADY SIMS (faltering). More !
SIR HARRY. Some ropes of pearls. I '11 see
to it. It 's a bagatelle to me. (KATE conceals
her chagrin, so she had better be shown the door.
38 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
He rings.) I won't detain you any longer,
KATE. Thank you.
LADY SIMS. Going already ? You have been
sm HARRY. The person doesn't suit, Emmy.
LADY SIMS. I 'm sorry.
KATE. So am I, madam, but it can't be
helped. Good-bye, your ladyship good-bye,
Sir Harry. (There is a suspicion of an im-
pertinent curtsy, and she is escorted off the pre-
mises by TOMBES. The air of the room is purified
by her going. SIR HARRY notices it at once.)
LADY SIMS (whose tendency is to say the wrong
thing). She seemed such a capable woman.
SIR HARRY (on his hearth). I don't like her
style at all.
LADY SIMS (meekly). Of course you know
best. (This is the right kind of woman.)
SIR HARRY (rather anxious for corroboration).
Lord, how she winced when I said I was to
give you those ropes of pearls.
LADY SIMS. Did she ? I didn't notice. I
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK 39
SIR HARRY (frowning). Suppose ? Surely I
know enough about women to know that.
LADY SIMS. Yes, oh yes.
SIR HARRY. (Odd that so confident a man
should ask this.) Emmy, I know you well,
don't I ? I can read you like a book, eh ?
LADY SIMS (nervously). Yes, Harry.
SIR HARRY (jovially, but with an inquiring eye).
What a different existence yours is from that
poor lonely wretch's.
LADY SIMS. Yes, but she has a very con-
SIR HARRY (with a stamp of his foot). All put
on. What ?
LADY SIMS (timidly). I didn't say anything.
SIR HARRY (snapping). One would think you
LADY SIMS. Envied ? Oh no but I thought
she looked so alive. It was while she was work-
ing the machine.
SIR HARRY. Alive ! That 's no life. It is
you that are alive. (Curtly) I 'm busy,
Emmy. (He sits at his writing-table.)
LADY SIMS (dutifully). I 'm sorry ; I '11 go,
40 THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK
Harry. (Inconsequentially) Are they very ex-
SIR HARRY. What ?
LADY SIMS. Those machines ?
(When she has gone the possible meaning
of her question startles him. The curtain
hides him from us, but 'we may be sure
that he will soon be bland again. We
have a comfortable feeling, you and /,
that there is nothing of HARRY SIMS in
The scene makes believe to be the private home of
Pantaloon and Columbine, though whether they ever
did have a private home is uncertain.
In the English version (and with that alone are we
concerning ourselves) these two were figures in the
harlequinade, which in Victorian days gave a finish
to pantomime as vital as a tail to a dog. Now they are
vanished from the boards ; or at best they wander
through the canvas streets, in everybody's way, at heart
afraid of their own policeman, really dead, and waiting,
like the faithful old horse, for some one to push them
over. Here at the theatre is perhaps a scrap of
Columbine 's skirt, torn off as she squeezed through
the wings for the last time, or even placed there in-
tentionally by her as a souvenir : Columbine to her
public, a kiss hanging on a nail.
They are very illusive. One has to toss to find out
what was their relation to each other : whether Pan-
taloon, for instance, was Columbine's father. He
was an old, old urchin of the streets over whom some
fairy wand had been waved, rather carelessly, and this
makes him a child of art ; now we must all be nice to
children of art, and the nicest thing we can do for
Pantaloon is to bring the penny down heads and
give him a delightful daughter. So Columbine was
It would be cruel to her to make her his wife, because
then she could not have a love-affair.
The mother is dead, to give the little home a touch
We have now proved that Pantaloon and his
daughter did have a home, and as soon as we know
that, we know more. We know, for instance, that as
half a crown seemed almost a competency to them,
their home must have been in a poor locality and con-
veniently small. We know also that the sitting-room
and kitchen combined must have been on the ground
floor. We know it, because in the harlequinade they
were always flying from the policeman or bashing his
helmet, and Pantaloon would have taken ill with a
chamber that was not easily commanded by the police-
man on his beat. Even Columbine, we may be sure,
refined as she was and incapable of the pettiest larceny,
liked the homely feeling of dodging the policeman 's eye
as she sat at meals. Lastly, we know that directly
opposite the little home was a sausage-shop, the
pleasantest of all sights to Pantaloon, who, next to
his daughter, loved a sausage. It is being almost too
intimate to tell that Columbine hated sausages ; she
hated them as a literary hand's daughter might hate
manuscripts. But like a loving child she never told
her hate, and spent great part of her time toasting
sausages to a turn before the fit e, and eating her own
one bravely when she must, but concealing it in the
oddest places when she could.
We should now be able to reconstitute Pantaloon's
parlour. It is agreeably stuffy, with two windows and
a recess between them, from which one may peep both
ways for the policeman. The furniture is in horse-hair,
no rents showing, because careful Columbine has
covered them with antimacassars. All the chairs (but
not the sofa) are as sound of limb as they look except
one, and Columbine, who is as light as an air balloon,
can sit on this one even with her feet off the floor.
Though the time is summer there is a fire burning,
so that Pantaloon need never eat his sausages raw,
which he might do inadvertently if Columbine did
not take them gently from his hand. There is a cosy
round table with a waxcloth cover adhering to it like
a sticking-plaster, and this table is set for tea. His-
trionic dignity is given to the room by a large wicker
trunk in which Pantaloon's treasures are packed
when he travels by rail, and on it is a printed intima-
tion that he is one of the brightest wits on earth.
Columbine could be crushed, concertina-like, into half
of this trunk, and it may be that she sometimes travels
thus to save her ticket. Between the windows hangs
a glass case, such as those at inns wherein Piscator
preserves his stuffed pike, but this one contains a poker.
It is interesting to note that Pantaloon is sufficiently
catholic in his tastes to spare a favourable eye for other
arts than his own. There are various paintings on
the walls, all of himself, with the exception of a small
one of his wife. These represent him not in humorous
act but for all time, as, for instance, leaning on a
bracket and reading a book, with one finger laid lightly
against his nose.
So far our work of reconstitution has been easy, but
we now come to the teaser. In all these pictures save
one (to be referred to in its proper place) Pantaloon is
presented not on the stage but in private life, yet he is
garbed and powdered as we know him in the harle-
quinade. If they are genuine portraits, therefore,
they tell us something profoundly odd about the home
life of Pantaloon ; nothing less than this, that as he
was on the stage, so he was off it, clothes, powder, and
all ; he was not acting a part in the harlequinade, he
was merely being himself. It was undoubtedly this
strange discovery that set us writing a play about him.
Of course bitter controversy may come of this, for
not every one will agree that we are right. It is well
known among the cognoscenti that actors in general
are not the same off the stage as on ; that they dress
for their parts, speak words written for them which
they do not necessarily believe, and afterwards wash
the whole thing off and then go to clubs and coolly cross
their legs. I accept this to be so (though I think it a
pity), but Pantaloon was never an actor in their sense ;
he would have scorned to speak words written for him
by any whippersnapper ; what he said and did before
the footlights were the result of mature conviction and
represented his philosophy of life. It is the more
easy to believe this of him because we are so anxious
to believe it of Columbine. Otherwise she could not
wear her pretty skirts in our play, and that would be
If this noble and simple consistency was the mark
of Pantaloon and Columbine (as we have now
proved up to the hilt), it must have distinguished no
less the other members of the harlequinade. There
were two others, the Harlequin and the Clown.
In far-back days, when the world was so young
that pieces of the original egg-shell still adhered to it,
one boy was so desperately poor that he alone of children
could not don fancy dress on fair days. Presently the
other children were sorry for this drab one, so each of
them clipped a little bit off his own clothing and gave
it to him. These were sewn together and made into a
costume for him, by the jolly little tailors who in our
days have quite gone out, and that is why Harlequin
has come down to us in patchwork. He was a lovely
boy with no brains at all (not that this matters), while
the Clown was all brain.
It has been our whim to make Pantaloon and
Columbine our chief figures, but we have had to go for
them, as it were, to the kitchen ; the true head of the
harlequinade was the Clown. You could not become
a clown by taking thought, you had to be born one. It
was just a chance. If the Clown had wished to walk
over the others they would have spread themselves on
the ground so that he should be able to do it without
inconveniencing himself. Any money they had they
got from him, and it was usually pennies. If they
displeased him he caned them. He had too much
power and it brutalised him, as we shall see, but in
fairness it should be told that he owed his supremacy
entirely to his funniness. The family worshipped
funniness, and he was the funniest.
It is not necessary for our play to reconstitute the
homes of Harlequin and Clown, but it could be done.
Harlequin, as a bachelor with no means but with a
secret conviction that he was a gentleman t had a sitting-
and-bed combined at the top of a house too near Jermyn
Street for his purse. He made up by not eating very
much, which was good for his figure. He always
carried his wand, which had curious magical qualities,
for instance it could make him invisible ; but in the
street he seldom asked this of it, having indeed a
friendly desire to be looked at. He had delightful
manners and an honest heart. The Clown, who, of
course, had appearances to keep up, knew the value of
a good address, and undoubtedly lived in the Cromwell
Road. He smoked cigars with bands round them,
and his togs were cut in Savile Row.
Clown and Pantaloon were a garrulous pair, but
Columbine and Harlequin never spoke. I don't
know whether they were what we call dumb. Perhaps
if they had tried to talk with their tongues they could
have done so, but they never thought of it. Tftey were
such exquisite dancers that they did ail their talking
with their legs. There is nothing that may be said
which they could not express with this leg or that. It
is the loveliest of all languages, and as soft as the fall
When the curtain rises we see Columbine alone in
the little house, very happy and gay, for she has no notion
that her tragic hour is about to strike. She is dressed
precisely as we may have seen her on the stage. It is
the pink skirt, the white one being usually kept for
Sunday, which is also washing-day ; and we almost
wish this had been Sunday, just to show Columbine
in white at the tub, washing the pink without letting
a single soap-sud pop on to the white. She is toasting
bread rhythmically by the fire, and hides the toasting-
fork as the policeman passes suspiciously outside.
Presently she is in a whirl of emotion because she has
heard Harlequin's knock. She rushes to the window
and hides (they were always hiding), she blows kisses,
and in her excitement she is everywhere and nowhere
at once, like a kitten that leaps at nothing and stops
half-way. She has the short quick steps of a bird on
a lawn. Long before we have time to describe her
movements she has bobbed out of sight beneath the
table to await Harlequin funnily, for we must never
forget that they are a funny family. With a whirl
of his wand that is itself a dance, Harlequin makes
the door fly open. He enters, says the stage direction,
but what it means is that somehow he is now in the
room. He probably knows that Columbine is
beneath the table, as she hides so often and there are
so few places in the room to hide in, but he searches
for her elsewhere, even in a jug, to her extreme mirth,
for of course she is peeping at him. He taps the
wicker basket with his wand and the lid flies open.
Still no Columbine! He sits dejectedly on a chair
by the table, with one foot toward the spot where we
last saw her head. This is irresistible. She kisses
the foot. She is out from beneath the table now,
and he is pursuing her round the room. They are
as wayward as leaves in a gale. The cunning fellow
pretends he does not want her, and now it is she who
is pursuing him. There is something entrancing in
his hand. It is a ring. It is the engagement-ring
at last ! She falters, she blushes, but she snatches at
the ring. He tantalises her, holding it beyond her
reach, but soon she has pulled down his hand and the
ring is on her finger. They are dancing ecstatically
when Pantaloon comes in and has to drop his stick
because she leaps into his arms. If she were not so
flurried she would see that the aged man has brought
excitement with him also.
PANTALOON. Ah, Fairy ! Fond of her dad,
is she ? Sweetest little daughter ever an old
'un had. (He sees HARLEQUIN and is genial to
him, while HARLEQUIN pirouettes a How-d" ye-do.)
You here, Boy ; welcome, Boy. (He is about
to remove his hat in the ordinary way, but HARLE-
QUIN, to save his prospective father-in-law any
little trouble, waves his wand and the hat goes to
rest on a door-peg. The little service so humbly
tendered pleases PANTALOON, and he surveys
HARLEQUIN with kindly condescension.) Thank
you, Boy. You are a good fellow, Boy, and
an artist too, in your limited way, not here
(tapping his head), not in a brainy way, but
lower down (thoughtfully, and including COLUM-
BINE in his downward survey). That 's where
your personality lies lower down. (At the
noble word personality COLUMBINE thankfully
crosses herself, and then indicates that tea is
ready.) Tea, Fairy ? I have such glorious
news ; but I will have a dish of tea first. You
will join us, Boy ? Sit down. (They sit down
to tea, the lovers exchanging shy, happy glances,
but soon PANTALOON rises petulantly.) Fairy,
there are no sausages ! Tea without a sausage.
I am bitterly disappointed. And on a day, too,
when I have great news. It 's almost more
than I can bear. No sausages ! (He is old
and is near weeping, but COLUMBINE indicates
with her personality that if he does not forgive
her she must droop and die, and soon again he
is a magnanimous father.) Yes, yes, my pet, I
forgive you. You can't abide sausages ; nor
can you, Boy. (They hide their shamed heads.)
It 's not your fault. Some are born with the
instinct for a sausage, and some have it not.
(More brightly) Would you like me to be funny
now, my dear, or shall we have tea first ?
(They prefer to have tea first, and the courteous
old man sits down with them.) But you do
think me funny, don't you, Fairy ? Neither
of you can look at me without laughing, can
you ? Try, Boy ; try, Fairy. (They try, but
fail. He is moved.) Thank you both, thank
you kindly. If the public only knew how
anxiously we listen for the laugh they would
be less grudging of it. (Hastily) Not that
I have any cause of complaint. Every night
I get the laugh from my generous patrons,
the public, and always by legitimate means.
When I think what a favourite I am I cannot
keep my seat. (He rises proudly.) I am
acknowledged by all in the know to be a funny
old man. (He moves about exultantly, looking
at the portraits that are to hand him down to
posterity.) That picture of me, Boy, was
painted to commemorate my being the second
funniest man on earth. Of course Joey is the
funniest, but I am the second funniest.* (They
have scarcely listened; they have been exchang-
ing delicious glances with face and foot. But at
mention of the CLOWN they shudder a little, and
their hands seek each other for protection.) This
portrait I had took done in honour of your
birth, my love. I call it ' The Old 'Un on First
Hearing that He is a Father.' (He chuckles
long before another picture which represents him
in the dress of ordinary people.) This is me in
fancy dress ; it is how I went to a fancy-dress
ball. Your mother, Fairy, was with me, in a
long skirt ! Very droll we must have looked, and
very droll we felt. I call to mind we walked
about in this way ; the way the public walks,
you know. (In his gaiety he imitates the walk
of the public, and roguish COLUMBINE imitates
them also, but she loses her balance.) Yes, try it.
Don't flutter so much. Ah, it won't do, Fairy.
Your natural way of walking 's like a bird
bobbing about on a lawn after worms. Your
mother was the same, and when she got low
in spirits I just blew her about the room till
she was lively again. Blow Fairy about, Boy.
(HARLEQUIN blows her divinely about the room,
against the wall, on to seats and off them, and for
some sad happy moments PANTALOON gazes at
her, feeling that his wife is alive again. They
think it is the auspicious time to tell him of their
love, but bashfulness falls upon them. He only
sees that their faces shine.) Ah, she is happy,
my Fairy, but I have news that will make her
happier ! (Curiously) Fairy, you look as if
you had something you wanted to tell me.
Have you news too ? (Tremblingly she extends
her hand and shows him the ring on it. For a
moment he misunderstands.) A ring ! Did he
give you that ? (She nods rapturously.) Oho,
oho, this makes me so happy. I '11 be funnier
than ever, if possible. (At this they dance glee-
fully, but his next words strike them cold.) But,
the rogue ! He said he wanted me to speak to
you about it first. That was my news. Oh,
the rogue ! (They are scared, and sudden fear
grips him.) There 's nothing wrong, is there ?
It was Joey gave you that ring, wasn't it,
Fairy ? (She shakes her head, and the move-
ment shakes tears from her eyes.) If it wasn't
Joey, who was it ? (HARLEQUIN steps forward.)
You ! You are not fond of Boy, are you,
Fairy ? (She is clinging to her lover now, and
PANTALOON is a little dazed.) But, my girl,
Joey wants you. A clown wants you. When
a clown wants you, you are not going to fling
yourself away on a harlequin, are you ? (They
go on their knees to him, and he is touched, but
also frightened.) Don't try to get round me ;
now don't. Joey would be angry with me. He
can be hard when he likes, Joey can. (In a
whisper) Perhaps he would cane me ! You
wouldn't like to see your dad caned, Fairy.
(COLUMBINE'S head sinks to the floor in woe, and
HARLEQUIN eagerly waves his wand.) Ah, Boy,
you couldn't defy him. He is our head. You
can do wonderful things with that wand, but
you can't fight Joey with it. (Sadly enough the
wand is lowered.) You see, children, it won't
do. You have no money, Boy, except the
coppers Joey sometimes gives you in an en-
velope of a Friday night, and we can't marry
without money (with an attempt at joviality),
can't marry without money, Boy. (HARLEQUIN
with a rising chest produces money.) Seven
shillings and tenpence ! You have been saving
up, Boy. Well done ! But it 's not enough.
(COLUMBINE darts to the mantelshelf for her
money-box and rattles it triumphantly. PANTA-
LOON looks inside it.) A half-crown and two
sixpences ! It won't do, children. I had a
pound and a piano -case when I married, and
yet I was pinched. (They sit on the floor with
their fingers to their eyes, and with difficulty he
restrains an impulse to sit beside them.) Poor
souls ! poor true love ! (The thought of Joey's
power and greatness overwhelms him.) Think of
Joey's individuality, Fairy. He banks his
money, my love. If you saw the boldness of
Joey in the bank when he hands the slip across
the counter and counts his money, my pet,
instead of being thankful for whatever they
give him. And then he puts out his tongue
at them ! The artist in him makes him put
out his tongue at them. For he is a great
artist, Joey. He is a greater artist than I am.
I know it and I admit it. He has a touch
that is beyond me. (Imploringly) Did you
say you would marry him, my love ? (She does
not raise her head, and he continues with a new
break in his voice.) It is not his caning me I
am so afraid of, but but I 'm oldish now,
Fairy, even for an old 'un, and there is something
I must tell you. I have tried to keep it from
myself, but I know. It is this : I am afraid,
my sweet, I am not so funny as I used to be.
(She encircles his knees in dissent.) Yes, it *s
true, and Joey knows it. On Monday I had
to fall into the barrel three times before I got
the laugh. Joey saw ! If Joey were to dismiss
me I could never get another shop. I would
be like a dog without a master. He has been
my master so long. I have put by nearly
enough to keep me, but oh, Fairy, the awful-
ness of not being famous any longer. Living
on without seeing my kind friends in front.
To think of my just being one of the public,
of my being pointed at in the streets as the
old 'un that was fired out of the company
because he missed his laughs. And that 's what
Joey will bring to pass if you don't marry
him, my girl. (It is an appeal for mercy, and
COLUMBINE is his loving daughter. Her face is
wan, but she tries to smile. She hugs the ring to
her breast, and then gives it back to HARLEQUIN.
They try to dance a last embrace, but their legs
are leaden. He kisses her cheeks and her foot
and goes away broken-hearted. The brave girl
puts her arm round her father's neck and hides
her wet face. He could not look at it though it
were exposed, for he has more to tell.) I haven't
told you the worst yet, my love. I didn't dare
tell you the worst till Boy had gone. Fairy,
the marriage is to be to-day ! Joey has
arranged it all. It 's his humour, and we dare
not thwart him. He is coming here to take
you to the wedding. (In a tremble she draws
away from him.) I haven't been a bad father
to you, have I, my girl ? When we were wait-
ing for you before you were born, your mother
and I, we used to wonder what you would be
like, and I it was natural, for I was always
an ambitious man I hoped you would be a
clown. But that wasn't to be, and when the
doctor came to me I was walking up and down
this room in a tremble, for my darling was
always delicate when the doctor came to me
and said, ' I congratulate you, sir, on being the
father of a fine little columbine,' I never uttered
one word of reproach to him or to you or to
her. (There is a certain grandeur about the old
man as he calls attention to the nobility of his
conduct, but it falls from him on the approach of
the CLOWN. We hear Joey before we see him :
he is singing a snatch of one of his triumphant
ditties, less for his own pleasure perhaps than to
warn the policeman to be on the alert. He has
probably driven to the end of the street, and then
walked. A tremor runs through COLUMBINE at
sound of him, but PANTALOON smiles, a foolish
ecstatic smile. Joey has always been his hero.)
Be ready to laugh, my girl. Joey will be angry
if he doesn't get the laugh.
(The CLOWN struts in, as confident of
welcome as if he were the announcement
of dinner. He wears his motley like an
order. A silk hat and an eyeglass indi-
cate his superior social position. A
sausage protruding from a pocket shows
that he can unbend at times. A masterful
man when you don't applaud enough, he
is at present in uproarious spirits, as if
he had just looked in a mirror. At first
he affects not to see His host, to PANTA-
LOON'S great entertainment.}
CLOWN. Miaw, miaw !
PANTALOON (bent with merriment). He is at
his funniest, quite at his funniest.
(CLOWN kicks him hard but good-naturedly,
and PANTALOON falls to the ground.)
CLOWN. Miaw !
PANTALOON (reverently). What an artist.
CLOWN (pretends to see COLUMBINE for the first
time in his life. In a masterpiece of funniness
he starts back, like one dazzled by a naked light).
Oh, Jiminy Crinkles ! Oh, I say, what a
PANTALOON. There 's nobody like him.
CLOWN. It 's Fairy. It 's my little Fairy.
(Strange, but all her admiration for this
man has gone. He represents nothing to
her now but wealth and social rank. He
ogles her, and she shrinks from him as if
he were something nauseous.)
PANTALOON (warningly). Fairy !
CLOWN (showing sharp teeth). Hey, what 's
this, old 'un ? Don't she admire me ?
PANTALOON. Not admire you, Joey ? That 's
a good 'un. Joey 5 s at his best to-day.
CLOWN. Ain't she ready to come to her
PANTALOON. She 's ready, Joey.
CLOWN (producing a cane, and lowering).
Have you told her what will happen to you if
she ain't ready ?
PANTALOON (backing). I 've told her, Joey
(supplicating). Get your hat, Fairy.
CLOWN. Why ain't she dancing wi' joy and
PANTALOON. She is, Joey, she is.
(COLUMBINE attempts to dance with joy
and pride, and the CLOWN has been so
long used to adulation that he is deceived.)
CLOWN (amiable again). Parson 's waiting.
Oh, what a lark.
PANTALOON (with a feeling that lark is not
perhaps the happiest ward for the occasion).
Get your things, Fairy.
CLOWN (riding on a chair). Give me some-
thing first, my lovey-dovey. I shuts my eyes
and opens my mouth, and waits for what 's
my doo. (She knows what he means, and it is
sacrilege to her. But her father's arms are ex-
tended beseechingly. She gives the now abhorred
countenance a kiss, and runs from the room. The
CLOWN plays with the kiss as if it were a sausage,
a sight abhorrent to HARLEQUIN, who has stolen
in by the window. Fain would he strike, but
though he is wearing his mask, which is a sign
that he is invisible, he fears to do so. As if con-
scious of the unseen presence, the CLOWN'S brow
darkens.) Joey, when I came in I saw Boy
hanging around outside.
PANTALOON (ill at ease). Boy ? What can
he be wanting ?
CLOWN. I know what he is wanting, and
I know what he will get. (He brandishes the
cane threateningly. At the same moment the
wedding bells begin to peal.)
PANTALOON. Hark !
CLOWN (with grotesque accompaniment). My
wedding bells. Fairy's wedding bells. There
they go again, here we are again, there the/ go
again, here we are again. (COLUMBINE returns.
She has tried to hide the tears on her cheeks behind
a muslin veil. There is a melancholy bouquet
in her hand. She passionately desires to be like
the respectable public on her marriage day.
HARLEQUIN raises his mask for a moment that
she may see him, and they look long at each other,
those two, who are never to have anything lovely
to look at again. ' Won't he save her yet ? ' says
her face, but 4 1 am afraid ' says his. Still the
bells are jangling.)
PANTALOON. My girl.
CLOWN. Mine. (He kisses her, but it is the
sausage look that is in his eyes. PANTALOON,
bleeding for his girl, raises his staff to strike him,
but COLUMBINE will not have the sacrifice. She
gives her arm to the CLOWN.) To the wedding.
To the wedding. Old 'un, lead on, and we will
follow thee ! Oh, what a lark !
(They are going toward the door, but in
this supreme moment love turns timid Boy
into a man. He waves his mysterious
wand over them, so that all three are
suddenly bereft of movement. They are
like frozen figures. He removes his mask
and smiles at them with a terrible face.
Fondly and leisurely he gathers COLUM-
BINE in his arms and carries her out by
the window. The CLOWN and PANTALOON
remain there, as if struck in the act of
taking a step forward. The wedding
bells are still pealing.)
The curtain falls for a moment only. It
rises on the same room several years later.
The same room ; as one may say of a
suit of clothes, out of which the whilom
tenant has long departed, that they are
the same man. A room cold to the touch,
dilapidated, fragments of the ceiling fallen
and left where they fell, wall-paper peel-
ing damply, portraits of PANTALOON taken
down to sell, unsaleable, and never re-
hung. Once such a clean room that its
ghost to-day might be COLUMBINE chasing
a speck of dust, it is now untended. Even
the windows are grimy, which tells a tale
of PANTALOON'S final capitulation ; while
any heart was left him we may be sure he
kept the windows clean so that the police-
man might spy upon him. Perhaps the
policeman has gone from the street, bored,
nothing doing there now.
It is evening and winter time, and the
ancient man is moving listlessly about
his room, mechanically blowing life into
his hands as if he had forgotten that there
is no real reason why there should be life
in them. The clothes COLUMBINE used to
brush with such care are slovenly, the hair
she so often smoothed with all her love is
unkempt. He is smaller, a man who has
shrunk into himself in shame, not so
much shame that he is uncaredfor as that
he is forgotten.
He is sitting forlorn by the fire when the
door opens to admit his first visitor for
years. It is the CLOWN, just sufficiently
stouter to look more resplendent. The
drum, so to say, is larger. He gloats over
the bowed PANTALOON like a spiteful
CLOWN (poking PANTALOON with his cane).
Who can this miserable ancient man be ?
(Visited at last by some one who knows
him, PANTALOON rises in a surge of joy.)
PANTALOON. You have come back, Joey,
after all these years !
CLOWN. Hands off. I came here, my good
fellow, to inquire for a Mr. Joseph.
PANTALOON (shuddering) . Yes, that 's me ;
that 's all that 's left of me ; Mr. Joseph ! Me
that used to be Joey.
CLOWN. I think I knew you once, Mr.
PANTALOON. Joey, you 're hard on me. It
wasn't my fault that Boy tricked us and ran
off wi' her.
CLOWN. May I ask, Mr. Joseph, were you
ever on the boards ?
PANTALOON. This to me as was your right
CLOWN. I seem to call to mind something
like you as used to play the swell.
PANTALOON (fiercely). It 's a lie ! I was
born a Pantaloon, and a Pantaloon I '11 die.
CLOWN. Yes, I heard you was dead, Mr.
Joseph. Everybody knows it except your-
self. (He gnaws a sausage.)
PANTALOON (greedily). Gie me a bite, Joey.
CLOWN (relentless). I only bites with the
profession. I never bites with the public.
PANTALOON. What brought you here ? Just
to rub it in ?
CLOWN. Let 's say I came to make inquiries
after the happy pair.
PANTALOON. It 's years and years, Joey,
since they ran away, and I 've never seen them
CLOWN. Heard of them ?
PANTALOON. Yes, I 've heard. They 're in
CLOWN. Answer their letters ?
PANTALOON (darkening). No.
CLOWN. They will be doing well, Mr. Joseph,
PANTALOON (boastfully). At first they did
badly, but when the managers heard Fairy was
my daughter they said the daughter o' such a
famous old 'un was sure to draw by reason of
her father's name. And they print the name
of her father in big letters.
CLOWN (rapping it out). It 's you that lie
now. I know about them. They go starving
like vagabonds from town to town.
PANTALOON. Ay, it 's true. They write that
they 're starving.
CLOWN. And they 've got a kid to add to
their misery. All vagabonds, father, mother,
PANTALOON. Rub it in, Joey.
CLOWN. You looks as if you would soon be
PANTALOON (not without dignity). I 'm
CLOWN. Well, well, I 'm a kindly soul, and
what brought me here was to make you an
PANTALOON (glistening). A shop ?
CLOWN. For old times' sake.
PANTALOON (with indecent eagerness). To be
old 'un again ?
CLOWN. No, you crock, but to carry a sand-
wich-board in the street wi' my new old 'un's
name on it.
(PANTALOON raises his withered arm, but
he lets it fall.)
PANTALOON. May you be forgiven for that,
CLOWN. Miaw !
PANTALOON (who is near his end). Joey, there
stands humbled before you an old artist.
CLOWN. Never an artist.
PANTALOON (firmly). An artist at present
CLOWN. Forgotten clean forgotten.
PANTALOON (bowing his head). Yes, that's
it forgotten. Once famous now forgotten.
Joey, they don't know me even at the sausage-
shop. I am just one of the public. My worst
time is when we should be going on the stage,
and I think I hear the gallery boys calling for
the old 'un ' Bravo, old 'un ! ' Then I sort
of break up. I sleep bad o' nights. I think
sleep would come to me if I could rub my back
on the scenery again. (He shudders.) But the
days are longer than the nights. I allus see
how I am to get through to-day, but I sit
thinking and thinking how I am to get through
CLOWN. Poor old crock. Well, so long.
PANTALOON (offering him the poker). Joey,
gie me one rub before you go for old times'
CLOWN. You '11 never be rubbed by a clown
again, Mr. Joseph.
PANTALOON. Call me Joey once say ' Good-
bye, old 'un' for old times' sake.
CLOWN. You will never be called Joey or
old 'un by a clown again, Mr. Joseph.
(With a noble gesture PANTALOON bids
him begone and the CLOWN miaws and
goes, twisting a sausage in his mouth as
if it were a cigar. So he passes from our
sight, funny to the last, or never funny, an
equally tragic figure.
PANTALOON rummages in the wicker
basket among his gods and strokes them
lovingly, a painted goose, his famous
staff, a bladder on a stick. He does not
know that he is hugging the bladder to
his cold breast as he again crouches by
The door opens, and COLUMBINE and
HARLEQUIN peep in, prepared to receive
a blozv for welcome. Their faces are
hollow and their clothes in rags, and,
saddest of all, they cannot dance in. They
walk in like the weary public. COLUM-
BINE looks as if she could walk as far as
her father's feet, but never any farther.
With them is the child. This is the great
surprise: HE is A CLOWN. They sign
to the child to intercede for them, but
though only a baby, he is a clown, and he
must do it in his own way. He pals his
nose, grins deliciously with the wrong
parts of his face, and dives beneath the
table. PANTALOON looks round and sees
his daughter on her knees before him.)
PANTALOON. You ! Fairy ! Come back !
(For a moment he is to draw her to him, then he
remembers.) No, I '11 have none of you. It
was you as brought me to this. Begone, I say
begone. (They are backing meekly to the door.)
Stop a minute. Little Fairy, is it true is it
true my Fairy has a kid ? (She nods, with
glistening eyes that say ' Can you put me out
now ? ' The baby peers from under the table,
and rubs PANTALOON'S legs with the poker.
Poor little baby, he is the last of the clowns, and
knows not what is in store for him. PANTALOON
trembles, it is so long since he has been rubbed.
He dare not look down.) Fairy, is it the kid ?
(She nods again ; the moment has come.) My
Fairy's kid ! (Somehow he has always taken
for granted that his grandchild is merely a colum-
bine. If the child had been something greater
they would all have got a shop again and served
under him.) Oh, Fairy, if only he had been a
(Now you see how it is going. The babe
emerges, and he is a clown.
Just for a moment PANTALOON cries.
Then the babe is tantalising him with a
sausage. PANTALOON revolves round him
like a happy teetotum. Who so gay now
as COLUMBINE and HARLEQUIN, dancing
merrily as if it were again the morning ?
Oh what a lark is life. Ring down the
curtain quickly, Mr. Prompter, before we
see them all swept into the dust-heap.)
Two middle-aged ladies are drinking tea in the parlour
of a cottage by the sea. It is far from London, and a
hundred yards from the cry of children, of whom
middle-aged ladies have often had enough. Were
the room Mrs. Page's we should make a journey
through it in search of character, but she is only a bird
of passage ; nothing of herself here that has not
strayed from her bedroom except some cushions and
rugs : touches of character after all maybe, for they
suggest that Mrs. Page likes to sit soft.
The exterior of the cottage is probably picturesque,
with a thatched roof, but we shall never know for certain,
it being against the rules of the game to step outside
and look. The old bowed window of the parlour is of
the engaging kind that still brings some carriage folk
to a sudden stop in villages, not necessarily to sample
the sweets of yester-year exposed within in bottles;
its panes are leaded; but Mrs. Quickly will put
something more modern in their place if ever her ship
comes home. They will then be used as the roof of
the hencoop, and ultimately some lovely lady, given,
like the chickens, to ' picking up things, 1 may survey
the world through them from a window in Mayfair.
The parlour is, by accident, like some woman's face
that scores by being out of drawing. At present
the window is her smile, but one cannot fix features
to the haphazard floor, nor to the irregular walls,
which nevertheless are part of the invitation to come
and stay here. There are two absurd steps leading
up to Mrs. Page's bedroom, and perhaps they are
what give the room its retroussee touch. There is a
smell of seaweed; twice a day Neptune comes
gallantly to the window and hands Mrs. Page the
smell of seaweed. He knows probably that she does
not like to have to go far for her seaweed. Perhaps
he also suspects her to be something of a spark, and
looks forward to his evening visits, of which we know
This is a mere suggestion that there may be more
in Mrs. Page (when the moon is up, say) than meets
the eye, but we see at present only what does meet the
eye as she gossips with her landlady at the tea-table.
Is she good-looking? is the universal shriek; the
one question on the one subject that really thrills
humanity. But the question seems beside the point
about this particular lady, who has so obviously
ceased to have any interest in the answer. To us
who have a few moments to sum her up while she is
still at the tea-table (just time enough for sharp ones
to form a wrong impression), she is an indolent, sloppy
thing, this Mrs. Page of London, decidedly too plump,
and averse to pulling the strings that might contract
her ; as Mrs. Quickly may have said, she has let
her figure go and snapped her fingers at it as it went.
Her hair is braided back at a minimum of labour
(and tJie brush has been left on the parlour mantel-
piece). She wears at tea-time a loose and dowdy
dressing-gown and large flat slippers. Such a lazy
woman (shall we venture ?) that if she were a beggar
and you offered her alms, she would ask you to put
them in her pocket for her.
Yet we notice, as contrary to her type, that she is not
only dowdy but self-consciously enamoured of her
dowdiness, has a kiss for it so to speak. This is odd,
and perhaps we had better have another look at her.
The thing waggling gaily beneath the table is one of her
feet, from which the sprawling slipper has dropped,
to remain where it fell. It is an uncommonly pretty
foot, and one instantly wonders what might not the
rest of her be like if it also escaped from its moorings.
The foot returns into custody, without its owner
having to stoop, and Mrs. Page crosses with cheerful
languor to a chair by the fire. She has a drawling
walk that fits her gown. There is no footstool within
reach, and she pulls another chair to her with her feet
and rests them on it contentedly. The slippers
almost hide her from our view.
DAME QUICKLY. You Mrs. Cosy Comfort.
MRS. PAGE (whose voice is as lazy as her walk).
That 's what I am. Perhaps a still better
name for me would be Mrs. Treacly Content-
ment. Dame, you like me, don't you ? Come
here, and tell me why.
DAME. What do I like you for, Mrs. Page ?
Well, for one thing, it 's very kind of you to let
me sit here drinking tea and gossiping with
you, for all the world as if I were your equal.
And for another, you always pay your book
the day I bring it to you, and that is enough to
make any poor woman like her lodger.
MRS. PAGE. Oh, as a lodger I know I 'm
well enough, and I love our gossips over the
teapot, but that is not exactly what I meant.
Let me put it in this way : If you tell me what
you most envy|in me, I shall tell you what I
most envy in you.
DAME (with no need to reflect). Well, most of
all, ma'am, I think I envy you your content-
ment with middle-age.
MRS. PAGE (purring). I am middle-aged, so
why should I complain of it ?
DAME (who feels that only yesterday she was
driving the youths to desperation). You even
say it as if it were a pretty word.
MBS. PAGE. But isn't it ?
DAME. Not when you are up to the knees
in it, as I am.
MES. PAGE. And as I am. But I dote on it.
It is such a comfy, sloppy, pull-the-curtains,
carpet-slipper sort of word. When I awake in
the morning, Dame, and am about to leap out
of bed like the girl I once was, I suddenly
remember, and I cry ' Hurrah, I 'm middle-aged.'
DAME. You just dumbfounder me when you
tell me things like that. (Here is something
she has long wanted to ask.) You can't be more
than forty, if I may make so bold ?
MRS. PAGE. I am forty and a bittock, as the
Scotch say. That means forty, and a good wee
DAME. There ! And you can say it without
MRS. PAGE. Why not ? Do you think I
should call myself a 30-to-45, like a motor-car ?
Now what I think I envy you for most is for
being a grandmamma.
DAME (smiling tolerantly at some picture the
words have called up). That 's a cheap honour.
MRS. PAGE (summing up probably her whole
conception of the duties of a grandmother). I
should love to be a grandmamma, and toss
little toddlekins in the air.
DAME (who knows that there is more in it than
that). I dare say you will be some day.
(The eyes of both turn to a photograph on
the mantelpiece. It represents a pretty
woman in the dress of Rosalind. The
DAME fingers it for the hundredth time,
and MRS. PAGE regards her tranquilly.)
DAME. No one can deny but your daughter
is a pretty piece. How old will she be now ?
MRS. PAGE. Dame, I don't know very much
about the stage, but I do know that you should
never, never ask an actress's age.
DAME. Surely when they are as young and
famous as this puss is.
MRS. PAGE. She is getting on, you know.
Shall we say twenty -three ?
DAME. Well, well, it's true you might be
a grandmother by now. I wonder she doesn't
marry. Where is she now ?
MRS. PAGE. At Monte Carlo, the papers say.
It is a place where people gamble.
DAME (shaking her head). Gamble ? Dear,
dear, that 's terrible. (But she knows of a
woman who once won a dinner service without
anything untoward happening afterwards.) And
yet I would like just once to put on my shilling
with the best of them. If I were you I would
try a month of that place with her.
MRS. PAGE. Not I, I am just Mrs. Cosy
Comfort. At Monte Carlo I should be a fish
out of water, Dame, as much as Beatrice
would be if she were to try a month down here
DAME (less in disparagement of local society
than of that sullen bore the sea, and blissfully un-
aware that it intrudes even at Monte Carlo). Yes,
I 'm thinking she would find this a dull hole.
(In the spirit of adventure that has carried the
English far) And yet, play-actress though she be,
I would like to see her, God forgive me.
(She is trimming the lamp when there is a
knock at the door. She is pleasantly
flustered, and indicates with a gesture that
something is constantly happening in this
DAME. It has a visitor's sound.
(The lodger is so impressed that she takes
her feet off the chair. Thus may MRS.
QUICKLY' s ancestors have stared at each
other in this very cottage a hundred years
ago when they thought they heard Napoleon
MRS. PAGE (keeping her head). If it is the
doctor's lady, she wants to arrange with me
about the cutting out for the mothers'
DAME (who has long ceased to benefit from these
gatherings). Drat the mothers' meetings.
MRS. PAGE. Oh no, I dote on them. (She is
splendidly active ; in short, the spirited woman
has got up.) Still, I want my evening snooze
now, so just tell her I am lying down.
DAME (thankful to be in a plot). I will.
MKS. PAGE. Yes, but let me lie down first,
so that it won't be a fib.
DAME. There, there. That 's such a middle-
aged thing to say.
(In the most middle-aged way MRS. PAGE
spreads herself on a couch. They have been
speaking in a whisper, and as the DAME goes
to the door we have just time to take note that
MRS. PAGE whispered most beautifully : a
softer whisper than the DAME'S, but so clear
that it might be heard across a field. This
is the most tell-tale thing we have discovered
about her as yet.
Before MRS. QUICKLY has reached the door
it opens to admit an impatient young man
in knickerbockers and a Norfolk jacket, all
aglow with raindrops. Public school (and
the particular one) is written on his fore-
head, and almost nothing else ; he has
scarcely yet begun to surmise that anything
else may be required. He is modest and
clear-eyed) and would ring for his tub in
Paradise ; reputably athletic also, with an
instant smile always in reserve for the
antagonist who accidentally shins him.
Whatever you, as his host, ask him to do,
he says he would like to awfully if you don't
mind his being a priceless duffer at it ;
his vocabulary is scanty, and in his engag-
ing mouth ' priceless ' sums up all that is
to be known of good or ill in our varied
existence ; at a pinch it would suffice him
for most of his simple wants, just as one
may traverse the Continent with Combien?
His brain is quite as good as another's, but
as yet he has referred scarcely anything to
it. He respects learning in the aged, but
shrinks uncomfortably from it in contem-
poraries, as persons who have somehow
failed. To him the proper way to look
upon ability is as something we must all
come to in the end. He has a nice taste in
the arts that has come to him by the way of
socks, spats and slips, and of these he has
a large and happy collection, which he
laughs at jollity in public (for his sense of
humour is sufficient], but in the privacy of
his chamber he sometimes spreads them out
like troutlet on the river's bank and has his
quiet thrills of exultation. Having lately
left Oxford, he is facing the world confidently
with nothing to impress it except these and
his Fives Choice (having beaten Hon. Billy
Minhorn in the final). He has not yet
decided whether to drop into business or
diplomacy or the bar. (There will be a lot
of fag about this) ; and all unknown to him
there is a grim piece of waste land waiting
for him in Canada, which he will make a
hash of, or it will make a man of him.
Billy will be there too.)
CHARLES (on the threshold). I beg your pardon
awfully, but I knocked three times.
DAME (liking the manner of him, and indeed
it is the nicest manner in the world). What 's
your pleasure ?
CHARLES. You see how jolly wet my things
are. (These boys get on delightful terms of in-
timacy at once.) I am on a walking tour not
that I have walked much (they never boast ;
he has really walked well and far) and I got
caught in that shower. I thought when I saw
a house that you might be kind enough to let
me take my jacket off and warm my paws, until
I can catch a train.
DAME (unable to whisper to MRS. PAGE 'He is
good-looking '). I 'm sorry, sir, but I have let
the kitchen fire out.
CHARLES (peeping over her shoulder). This
DAME. This is my lodger's room.
CHARLES. Ah, I see. Still, I dare say that
if he knew (He has edged farther into the
room, and becomes aware that there is a lady with
eyes closed on the sofa.) I beg your pardon ;
I didn't know there was any one here.
(But the lady on the sofa replies not, and to
the DAME this is his dismissal.)
DAME. The station is just round the corner,
and there is a waiting-room there.
CHARLES. A station waiting-room fire ; I
know them. Is she asleep ?
CHARLES (who nearly always gets round them
when he pouts). Then can't I stay ? I won't
DAME (obdurate). I 'm sorry.
CHARLES (cheerily he will probably do well
on that fruit-farm). Heigho ! Well, here is for
the station waiting-room.
(And he is about to go when MRS. PAGE
signs to the DAME that he may stay. We
have given the talk between the DAME and
CHARLES in order to get it over, but our
sterner eye is all the time on MRS. PAGE.
Her eyes remain closed as if in sleep and
she is lying on the sofa, yet for the first time
since the curtain rose she has come to life.
As if she knew we were watching her she is
again inert, but there was a twitch of the
mouth a moment ago that let a sunbeam
loose upon her face. It is gone already,
popped out of the box and returned to it
with the speed of thought. Noticeable as
is MRS. PAGE'S mischievous smile, far
more noticeable is her control of it. A
sudden thought occurs to us that the
face we had thought stolid is made of
DAME (cleverly). After all, if you 're willing
just to sit quietly by the fire and take a book
CHARLES. Rather. Any book. Thank you
immensely. (And in his delightful way of making
himself at home he whips off his knapsack and
steps inside the fender. ' He is saucy, thank
goodness,' is what the DAME'S glance at MRS. PAGE
conveys. That lady's eyelids flicker as if she had
discovered a way of watching CHARLES while she
slumbers. Anon his eye alights on the photograph
that has already been the subject of conversation,
and he is instantly exclamatory.)
DAME (warningly). Now, you promised not
CHARLES. But that photograph. How funny
you should have it.
DAME (severely). Hsh. It 's not mine.
CHARLES (with his first glance of interest at
the sleeper). Hers ?
(The eyelids have ceased to flicker. It is
placid MRS. PAGE again. Never was such
an inelastic face.)
DAME. Yes ; only don't talk.
CHARLES. But this is priceless (gazing at the
photograph). I must talk. (He gives his reason.)
I know her (a reason that would be complimentary
to any young lady). It is Miss Beatrice Page.
DAME (who knows the creature man). You
mean you 've seen her ?
CHARLES (youthfully). I know her quite well.
I have had lunch with her twice. She is at
Monte Carlo just now. (Swelling) I was one of
those that saw her off.
DAME. Yes, that 's the place. Read what
is written across her velvet chest.
CHARLES (deciphering the writing on the photo-
graph). l To darling Mumsy with heaps of
kisses.' (His eyes gleam. Is he in the middle
of an astonishing adventure?) You don't tell
me Is that ?
DAME (as coolly as though she were passing the
butter). Yes, that 's her mother. And a sore
trial it must have been to her when her girl took
to such a trade.
CHARLES (waving aside such nonsense). But I
say, she never spoke to me about a mother.
DAME. The more shame to her.
CHARLES (deeply versed in the traffic of the
stage). I mean she is famed as being almost
the only actress who doesn't have a mother.
DAME (bewildered). What ?
CHARLES (seeing the uselessness of laying pearls
before this lady). Let me have a look at her.
DAME. It is not to be thought of. (But an
unexpected nod from the sleeper indicates that it
may be permitted.) Oh, well, I see no harm in
it if you go softly.
(He tiptoes to the sofa, but perhaps MRS.
PAGE is a light sleeper, for she stirs a little,
just sufficiently to become more compact,
while the slippers rise into startling prom-
inence. Some humorous dream, as it might
be, slightly extends her mouth and turns the
oval of her face into a round. Her head
has sunk into her neck. Simultaneously,
as if her circulation were suddenly held up,
a shadow passes over her complexion.
This is a bad copy of the MRS. PAGE we
have seen hitherto, and will give CHARLES
a poor impression of her.)
CHARLES (peering over the slippers). Yes,
DAMB. Is she like the daughter, think you ?
CHARLES (judicially). In a way, very. Hair 's
not so pretty. She 's not such a fine colour.
Heavier build, and I should say not so tall.
None of Miss Page's distinction, nothing svelte
about her. As for the feet (he might almost have
said the palisade) the feet (He shudders a
little, and so do the feet.)
DAME. She is getting on, you see. She is
forty and a bittock.
CHARLES. A whattock ?
DAME (who has never studied the Doric). It
may be a whattock.
CHARLES (gallantly). But there 's something
nice about her. I could have told she was her
mother anywhere. (With which handsome com-
pliment he returns to the fire, and MRS. PAGE, no
doubt much gratified, throws a kiss after him. She
also signs to the DAME a mischievous desire to be
left alone with this blade.)
DAME (discreetly). Well, I '11 leave you, but,
mind, you are not to disturb her.
(She goes, with the pleasant feeling that
there are two clever women in the house ;
and with wide-open eyes MRS. PAGE watches
CHARLES dealing amorously with the photo-
graph. Soon he returns to her side, and
her eyes are closed, but she does not trouble
to repeat the trifling with her appearance.
She probably knows the strength of first
CHARLES (murmuring the word as if it were
sweet music). Mumsy. (With conviction) You
MRS. PAGE (in a dream). Is that you,
(This makes him skurry away, but he is
soon back again, and the soundness of her
slumber annoys him.)
CHARLES (in a reproachful whisper). Woman,
wake up and talk to me about your daughter.
(The selfish thing sleeps on, and somewhat
gingerly he pulls away the cushion from
beneath her head. Nice treatment for a
lady. MRS. PAGE starts up, and at first
is not quite sure where she is, you know.)
MRS. PAGE. Why what
CHARLES (contritely). I am very sorry. I 'm
afraid I disturbed you.
MRS. PAGE (blankly). I don't know you, do I ?
CHARLES (who has his inspirations). No,
madam, but I wish you did.
MRS. PAGE (making sure that she is still in the
DAME'S cottage). Who are you ? and what are
you doing here ?
CHARLES (for truth is best). My name is
Roche. I am nobody in particular. I 'm just
the usual thing ; Eton, Oxford, and so to bed
as Pepys would say. I am on a walking tour,
on my way to the station, but there is no train
till seven, and your landlady let me in out
of the rain on the promise that I wouldn't
MRS. PAGE (taking it all in with a woman's
quickness). I see. (Suddenly) But you have
CHARLES. I 'm sorry.
MRS. PAGE (with a covert eye on him). It
wasn't really your fault. This cushion slipped
from under me, and I woke up.
CHARLES (manfully). No, I I pulled it away.
MRS. PAGE (indignant). You did ! (She ad-
vances upon him like a stately ship.) Will you
please to tell me why ?
CHARLES (feebly). I didn't mean to pull so
hard. (Then he gallantly leaps into the breach.)
Madam, I felt it was impossible for me to leave
this house without first waking you to tell you
of the feelings of solemn respect with which I
MRS. PAGE. Really.
CHARLES. I suppose I consider you the
cleverest woman in the world.
MRS. PAGE. On so short an acquaintance ?
CHARLES (lucidly). I mean, to have had the
priceless cleverness to have her
MRS. PAGE. Have her ? (A light breaks on
her.) My daughter ?
CHARLES. Yes, I know her. (As who should
say, Isn't it a jolly world.)
MRS. PAGE. You know Beatrice personally ?
CHARLES (not surprised that it takes her a little
time to get used to the idea). I assure you I have
that honour. (In one mouthful) I think she is
the most beautiful and the cleverest woman I
have ever known.
MRS. PAGE. I thought I was the cleverest.
CHARLES. Yes, indeed ; for I think it even
cleverer to have had her than to be her.
MRS. PAGE. Dear me. I must wait till I
get a chair before thinking this out. (A chair
means two chairs to her, as we have seen, but
she gives the one on which her feet wish to rest to
CHARLES.) You can have this half, Mr. ah
MRS. PAGE (resting from her labours of the last
minute). You are so nattering, Mr. Roche, I
think you must be an actor yourself.
CHARLES (succinctly). No, I 'm nothing. My
father says I 'm just an expense. But when I
saw Beatrice's photograph there (the nice boy
pauses a moment because this is the first time he
has said the name to her mother ; he is taking off
his hat to it) with .the inscription on it
MRS. PAGE. That foolish inscription.
CHARLES (arrested). Do you think so ?
MRS. PAGE. I mean foolish, because she has
quite spoilt the picture by writing across the
chest. That beautiful gown ruined.
CHARLES (fondly tolerant). They all do it,
even across their trousers ; the men I mean.
MRS. PAGE (interested). Do they ? I wonder
CHARLES (remembering now that other callings
don't do it). It does seem odd. (But after all
the others are probably missing something.)
MRS. PAGE (shaking her wise head). I know
very little about them, but I am afraid they are
an odd race.
CHARLES (who has doted on many of them,
though they were usually not sitting at his table).
But very attractive, don't you think ? The
ladies I mean.
MRS. PAGE (luxuriously). I mix so little with
them. I am not a Bohemian, you see. Did I
tell you that I have never even seen Beatrice
CHARLES. You haven't ? How very strange.
Not even her Rosalind ?
MRS. PAGE (stretching herself). No. Is it
cruel to her ?
CHARLES (giving her one). Cruel to yourself.
(But this is no policy for an admirer of MISS PAGE.)
She gave me her photograph as Rosalind.
(Hurriedly) Not a postcard.
MRS. PAGE (who is very likely sneering). With
writing across the chest, I '11 be bound.
CHARLES (stoutly). Do you think I value it
the less for that ?
MRS. PAGE (unblushing). Oh no, the more.
You have it framed on your mantelshelf, haven't
you, so that when the other young bloods who
are just an expense drop in they may read the
pretty words and say, ' Roche, old man, you
are going it.'
CHARLES. Do you really think that I
MRS. PAGE. Pooh, that was what Beatrice
expected when she gave it you.
CHARLES. Silence ! (She raises her eyebrows,
and he is stricken.) I beg your pardon, I should
have remembered that you are her mother.
MRS. PAGE (smiling on him). I beg yours. I
should like to know, Mr. Roche, where you do
keep that foolish photograph.
CHARLES (with a swelling). Why, here. (He
produces it in a case from an honoured pocket.)
Won't you look at it ?
MRS. PAGE (with proper solemnity). Yes. It
is one I like.
CHARLES (cocking his head). It just misses her
at her best.
MRS. PAGE. Her best ? You mean her way
of screwing her nose ?
CHARLES (who was never sent up for good for
lucidity or perhaps he was). That comes into
it. I mean I mean her naivete*.
MRS. PAGE. Ah yes, her naivete. I have
often seen her practising it before a glass.
CHARLES (with a disarming smile). Excuse
me ; you haven't, you know.
MRS. PAGE (disarmed). Haven't I ? Well,
well, I dare say she is a wonder, but, mind you,
when all is said and done, it is for her nose that
she gets her salary. May I read what is written
on the chest ? (She reads.) The baggage !
(Shaking her head at him). But this young lady
on the other side, who is she, Lothario ?
CHARLES (boyish and stumbling). That is my
sister. She died three years ago. We were
rather chums and she gave me that case to
put her picture in. So I did.
(He jerks it out, glaring at her to see if she
is despising him. But MRS. PAGE, though
she cannot be sentimental for long, can be
very good at it while it lasts.)
MRS. PAGE (quite moved). Good brother.
And it is a dear face. But you should not have
put my Beatrice opposite it, Mr. Roche : your
sister would not have liked that. It was thought-
less of you.
CHARLES. My sister would have liked it very
much. (Floundering) When she gave me the
case she said to me you know what girls are
she said, 4 If you get to love a woman, put her
picture opposite mine, and then when the case
is closed I shall be kissing her.'
(His face implores her not to think him a
silly. She is really more troubled than we
might have expected.)
MRS. PAGE (rising). Mr. Roche, I never
CHARLES. And that is why I keep the two
MRS. PAGE. You shouldn't.
CHARLES. Why shouldn't I ? Don't you
dare to say anything to me against my Beatrice.
MRS. PAGE (with the smile of ocean on her face).
Your Beatrice. You poor boy.
CHARLES. Of course I haven't any right to
call her that. I haven't spoken of it to her yet.
I 'm such a nobody, you see. (Very nice and
candid of him, but we may remember that his love
has not set him trying to make a somebody out of
the nobody. Are you perfectly certain, CHARLES,
that to be seen with the celebrated PAGE is not almost
more delightful to you than to be with her ? Her
mother at all events gives him the benefit of the doubt,
or so we interpret her sudden action. She tears the
photograph in two. He protests indignantly.)
MRS. PAGE. Mr. Roche, be merry and gay
with Beatrice as you will, but don't take her
seriously. (She gives him back the case.) I
think you said you had to catch a train.
CHARLES (surveying his lorn treasure. He is
very near to tears, but decides rather recklessly to
be a strong man). Not yet ; I must speak of her
to you now.
MRS. PAGE (a strong woman without having to
decide}. I forbid ycu.
CHARLES (who, if he knew himself, might see
that a good deal of gloomy entertainment could be
got by desisting here and stalking London as the
persecuted of his lady's mamma). I have the
right. There is no decent man who hasn't the
right to tell a woman that he loves her daughter.
MRS. PAGE (determined to keep him to earth
though she has to hold him down). She doesn't
love you, my friend.
CHARLES (though a hopeless passion would be
another rather jolly thing). How do you know ?
You have already said
MRS. PAGE (rather desperate). I wish you had
never come here.
CHARLES (manfully). Why are you so set
against me ? I think if I was a woman I should
like at any rate to take a good straight look into
the eyes of a man who said he was fond of her
daughter. You might have to say ' No ' to him,
but often you must have had thoughts of the
kind of man who would one day take her from
you, and though I may not be the kind, I assure
you, I I am just as fond of her as if I were.
(Not bad for CHARLES. Sent up for good this
MRS. PAGE (beating her hands together in dis-
tress). You are torturing me, Charles.
CHARLES. But why ? Did I tell you my
name was Charles ? (With a happy thought)
She has spoken of me to you ! What did
she say ?
(If he were thinking less of himself and a
little of the woman before him he would see
that she has turned into an exquisite sup-
MRS. PAGE. Oh, boy you boy ! Don't say
anything more. Go away now.
CHARLES. I don't understand.
MRS. PAGE. I never had an idea that you
cared in that way. I thought we were only
CHARLES. We ?
MRS. PAGE (with a wry lip for the word that has
escaped her). Charles, if you must know, can't
you help me out a little ? Don't you see at
(She has come to him with undulations
as lovely as a swallow's flight, mocking,
begging, not at all the woman we have been
watching; she has become suddenly a
disdainful, melting armful. But CHARLES
does not see.)
CHARLES (the obtuse). I I
MRS. PAGE. Very well. But indeed I am sorry
to have to break your pretty toy. (Drooping still
farther on her stem.) Beatrice, Mr. Roche, has not
had a mother this many a year. Do you see now ?
MRS. PAGE. Well, well. (Abjectly) Beatrice,
Mr. Roche, is forty and a bittock.
CHARLES. I you but oh no.
MRS. PAGE (for better, for worse). Yes, I am
Beatrice. (He looks to the photograph to rise up
and give her the lie.) The writing on the photo-
graph ? A jest. I can explain that.
CHARLES. But but it isn't only on the stage
I have seen her. I know her off too.
MRS. PAGE. A little. I can explain that also.
(He is a very woeful young man.) I am horribly
CHARLES (with his last kick). Even now
MRS. PAGE. Do you remember an incident
with a pair of scissors one day last June in a
boat near Maidenhead ?
CHARLES. When Beatrice when you when
she cut her wrist ?
MRS. PAGE. And you kissed the place to make
it well. It left its mark.
CHARLES. I have seen it since.
MRS. PAGE. You may see it again, Charles.
(She offers him her wrist, but he does not look. He
knows the mark is there. For the moment the
comic spirit has deserted her, so anxious is she to
help this tragic boy. She speaks in the cooing
voice that proves her to be BEATRICE better than
any wrist-mark.) Am I so terribly unlike her as
you knew her ?
CHARLES (Ah, to be stabbed with the voice you
have loved). No, you are very like, only yes,
I know now it 's you.
MRS. PAGE (pricked keenly). Only I am look-
ing my age to-day. (Forlorn) This is my real
self, Charles if I have one. Why don't you
laugh, my friend ? I am laughing. (No, not yet,
though she will be presently.) You won't give me
away, will you ? (He shakes his head.) I know
you won't now, but it was my first fear when I
saw you. (With a sigh) And now, I suppose, I
owe you an explanation.
CHARLES (done with the world). Not unless
you wish to.
MRS. PAGE. Oh yes, I wish to. (The laughter
is bubbling up now.) Only it will leave you a
wiser and a sadder man. You will never be
twenty -three again, Charles.
CHARLES (recalling his distant youth). No, I
know I won't.
MRS. PAGE (now the laughter is playing round
her mouth). Ah, don't take it so lugubriously.
You will only jump to twenty -four, say.
(She sits down beside him to make full confes-
sion.) You must often have heard gossip about
actresses' ages ?
CHARLES. I didn't join in it.
MRS. PAGE. Then you can't be a member of
CHARLES. If they began it
MRS. PAGE. You wouldn't listen ?
CHARLES. Not about you. I dare say I
listened about the others.
MES. PAGE. You nice boy. And now to make
you twenty -four. (Involuntarily, true to the call-
ing she adorns, she makes the surgeon's action of
turning up her sleeves.) You have seen lots of
plays, Charles ?
CHARLES. Yes, tons.
MRS. PAGE. Have you noticed that there are
no parts in them for middle-aged ladies ?
CHARLES (who has had too happy a life to notice
this or almost anything else). Aren't there ?
MRS. PAGE. Oh no, not for ' stars.' There
is nothing for them between the ages of twenty -
nine and sixty. Occasionally one of the less
experienced dramatists may write such a part,
but with a little coaxing we can always make
him say, ' She needn't be more than twenty-
nine.' And so, dear Charles, we have succeeded
hi keeping middle-age for women off the stage.
Why, even Father Time doesn't let on about
us. He waits at the wings with a dark cloth
for us, just as our dressers wait with dust-sheets
to fling over our expensive frocks ; but we
have a way with us that makes even Father
Time reluctant to cast his cloak ; perhaps it is
the coquettish imploring look we give him as
we dodge him ; perhaps though he is an old
fellow he can't resist the powder on our pretty
noses. And so he says, ' The enchanting baggage,
I '11 give her another year.' When you come to
write my epitaph, Charles, let it be in these
delicious words, ' She had a long twenty -nine.'
CHARLES. But off the stage I knew you off.
(Recalling a gay phantom) Why, I was one of
those who saw you into your train for Monte
MRS. PAGE. You thought you did. That
made it easier for me to deceive you here. But
I got out of that train at the next station.
(She makes a movement to get out of the
train here. We begin to note how she suits
the action to the word in obedience to
Shakespeare's lamentable injunction ; she
cannot mention the tongs without forking
two of her fingers .}
CHARLES. You came here instead ?
MRS. PAGE. Yes, stole here.
CHARLES (surveying the broken pieces of her).
Even now I can scarcely You who seemed
so young and gay.
MRS. PAGE (who is really very good-natured,
else would she clout him on the head). I was a
twenty -nine. Oh, don't look so solemn, Charles.
It is not confined to the stage. The stalls are
full of twenty -nines. Do you remember what
fun it was to help me on with my cloak ? Re-
member why I had to put more powder on my
chin one evening ?
CHARLES (with a groan). It was only a few
MRS. PAGE. Yes. Sometimes it was Mr.
Time I saw in the mirror, but the wretch only
winked at me and went his way.
CHARLES (ungallantly). But your whole ap-
pearance so girlish compared to
MRS. PAGE (gallantly). To this. I am coming
to 4 this,' Charles. (Confidentially ; no one can
be quite so delightfully confidential as BEATRICE
PAGE.) You see, never having been more than
twenty -nine, not even in my sleep for we have
to keep it up even in our sleep I began to
wonder what middle-age was like. I wanted to
feel the sensation. A woman's curiosity, Charles.
CHARLES. Still, you couldn't
MRS. PAGE. Couldn't I ! Listen. Two
summers ago, instead of going to Biarritz
see pictures of me in the illustrated papers
stepping into my motor-car, or going a round
of country houses see photograph of us all on
the steps the names, Charles, read from left
to right instead of doing any of these things
I pretended I went there, and in reality I came
down here, determined for a whole calendar
month to be a middle-aged lady. I had to
get some new clothes, real, cosy, sloppy, very
middle-aged clothes ; and that is why I invented
mamma ; I got them for her, you see. I said
she was about my figure, but stouter and shorter,
a you see she is.
CHARLES (his eyes wandering up and down
her and nowhere a familiar place). I can't
MRS. PAGE. No, you are too nice a boy to
make it out. You don't understand the differ-
ence that a sober way of doing one's hah-, and
the letting out of a few strings, and sundry
other trifles that are no trifles, make ; but you
see I vowed that if the immortal part of me
was to get a novel sort of rest, my figure should
get it also. Voild ! And thus all cosy within
and without, I took lodgings in the most out -of -
the-world spot I knew of, in the hope that here I
might find the lady of whom I was in search.
CHARLES. Meaning ?
MRS. PAGE (rather grimly). Meaning myself.
Until two years ago she and I had never met.
CHARLES (the cynic). And how do you like her ?
MRS. PAGE. Better than you do, young sir.
She is really rather nice. I don't suppose I
could do with her all the year round, but for
a month or so I am just wallowing in her.
You remember my entrancing little shoes ?
(she wickedly exposes her flapping slippers). At
local dances I sit out deliciously as a wall-
flower. Drop a tear, Charles, for me as a wall-
flower. I play cards, and the engaged ladies
give me their confidences as a dear old thing ;
and I never, never dream of setting my cap at
CHARLES. How strange. You who, when
MRS. PAGE (plaintively). Yes, couldn't I,
CHARLES (fatting into the snare). It was just
the wild gaiety of you.
MRS. PAGE (who is in the better position to
know). It was the devilry of me.
CHARLES. Whatever it was, it bewitched us.
MRS. PAGE (candidly, but forgiving herself). It
CHARLES. If you weren't all glee you were
the saddest thing on earth.
MRS. PAGE. But I shouldn't have been sad
on your shoulders, Charles.
CHARLES (appealing). You weren't sad on all
our shoulders, were you ?
MRS. PAGE (reassuring). No, not all.
Oh the gladness of her gladness when she 's glad,
And the sadness of her sadness when she 's sad,
But the gladness of her gladness
And the sadness of her sadness
Are as nothing, Charles,
To the badness of her badness when she 's bad.
(This dagger-to-her-breast business is one
of her choicest tricks offence, and is very
danger ous if you can coo like BEATRICE.)
CHARLES (pinked) . Not a word against yourself.
MRS. PAGE (already seeing what she has been
up to). Myself! I suppose even now I am
only playing a part.
CHARLES (who has become her handkerchief).
No, no, this is your real self.
MRS. PAGE (warily). Is it ? I wonder.
CHARLES. I never knew any one who had
MRS. PAGE. Oh, I am always ready with
whatever feeling is called for. I have a ward-
robe of them, Charles. Don't blame me, blame
the public of whom you are one ; the pitiless
public that has made me what I am. I am
their slave and their plaything, and when I
please them they fling me nuts. (Her voice
breaks ; no voice can break so naturally as
BEATRICE'S.) I would have been a darling of
a wife don't you think so, Charles ? but they
wouldn't let me. I am only a bundle of
emotions ; I have two characters for each day
of the week. Home became a less thing to me
than a new part. Charles, if only I could have
been a nobody. Can't you picture me, such
a happy, unknown woman, dancing along some
sandy shore with half a dozen little boys and
girls hanging on to my skirts ? When my son
was old enough, wouldn't he and I have made a
rather pretty picture for the king the day he
joined his ship. And I think most of all I
should have loved to deck out my daughter
in her wedding-gown.
When her mother tends her before the laughing
Tying up her laces, looping up her hair
But the public wouldn't have it, and I had to
pay the price of my success.
CHARLES (heart-broken for that wet face).
MBS. PAGE. I became a harum-scarum,
Charles ; sometimes very foolish (with a queer
insight into herself) chiefly through good-nature,
I think. There were moments when there was
nothing I wouldn't do, so long as I was all right
for the play at night. Nothing else seemed to
matter. I have kicked over all the traces, my
friend. You remember the Scottish poet who
Keenly felt the friendly glow
And softer flame,
But thoughtless follies laid him low
And stained his name.
(Sadly enough) Thoughtless follies laid her low,
Charles, and stained her name.
CHARLES (ready to fling down his glove in her
defence). I don't believe it. No, no, Beatrice
MRS. PAGE. Ah, it 's Mrs. Page now.
CHARLES. You are crying.
MRS. PAGE (with some satisfaction). Yes, I
CHARLES. This is terrible to me. I never
dreamt your life was such a tragedy.
MRS. PAGE (coming to). Don't be so con-
cerned. I am crying, but all the time I am
looking at you through the corner of my eye
to see if I am doing it well.
CHARLES (hurt). Don't don't.
MRS. PAGE (well aware that she will always be
her best audience). Soon I '11 be laughing again.
When I have cried, Charles, then it is time for
me to laugh.
CHARLES. Please, I wish you wouldn't.
MRS. PAGE (already in the grip of another devil).
And from all this, Charles, you have so nobly
offered to save me. You are prepared to take
me away from this dreadful life and let me
be my real self. (CHARLES distinctly blanches.)
Charles, it is dear and kind of you, and I accept
your offer.' (She gives him a come-and-take-me
curtsy and awaits his rapturous response. The
referee counts ten, but CHARLES has not risen from
the floor. Goose that he is ; she trills with merri-
ment, though there is a touch of bitterness in it.)
You see the time for laughing has come already.
You really thought I wanted you, you conceited
boy. (Rather grandly) I am not for the likes of
CHARLES (abject). Don't mock me. I am
MRS. PAGE (putting her hand on his shoulder
in her dangerous, careless, kindly way). There,
there, it is just a game. All life 's a game.
(It is here that the telegram comes. MRS.
QUICKLY brings it in ; and the better to
read it, but with a glance at CHARLES to
observe the effect on him, MRS. PAGE puts
on her large horn spectacles. He sighs.)
DAME. Is there any answer ? The girl is
MRS. PAGE. No answer, thank you.
(MRS. QUICKLY goes, wondering what those
two have had to say to each other.)
CHARLES (glad to be a thousand miles away
from recent matters). Not bad news, I hope ?
MRS. PAGE (wiping her spectacles). From my
manager. It is in cipher, but what it means is
that the summer play isn't drawing, and that
they have decided to revive As You Like It.
They want me back to rehearse to-morrow at
CHARLES (indignant). They can't even let
you have a few weeks.
MRS. PAGE (returning from London). What ?
Heigho, is it not sad ? But I had been warned
that this might happen.
CHARLES (evolving schemes] . Surely if you
(But she has summoned MRS. QUICKLY.)
MRS. PAGE (plaintively). Alas, Dame, our
pleasant gossips have ended for this year. I
am called back to London hurriedly.
DAME. Oh dear, the pity ! (She has already
asked herself what might be in the telegram.)
Your girl has come back, and she wants you ?
Is that it ?
MRS. PAGE. That 's about it. (Her quiet,
sad manner says that we must all dree our weird.)
I must go. Have I time to catch the express ?
CHARLES (dispirited). It leaves at seven.
MRS. PAGE (bravely). I think I can do it. Is
that the train you are to take ?
CHARLES. Yes, but only to the next station.
MRS. PAGE (grown humble in her misfortune).
Even for that moment of your company I shall
be grateful. Dame, this gentleman turns out
to be a friend of Beatrice.
DAME. So he said, but I suspicioned him.
MRS. PAGE. Well, he is. Mr. Roche, this is
my kind Dame. I must put a few things
DAME. If I can help
MRS. PAGE. You can send on my luggage to-
morrow ; but here is one thing you might do
now. Run down to the Rectory and tell them
why I can't be there for the cutting-out.
DAME. I will.
MRS. PAGE. I haven't many minutes. Good-
bye, you dear, for I shall be gone before you get
back. I '11 write and settle everything. (With
a last look round) Cosy room ! I have had a
(Her face quivers a little f but she does not
break down. She passes, a courageous
figure, into the bedroom. The slippers
plop as she mounts the steps to it. Her
back looks older than we have seen it ; at
least such is its intention.)
DAME (who has learned the usekssness of railing
against fate). Dearie dear, what a pity.
CHARLES (less experienced). It 's horrible.
DAME (wisely turning fate into a gossip). Queer
to think of a lady like Mrs. Page having a daughter
that jumps about for a living. (Good God, thinks
CHARLES, how little this woman knows of life.)
What I sometimes fear is that the daughter
doesn't take much care of her. I dare say
she 's fond of her, but does she do the little kind
things for her that a lady come Mrs. Page's age
CHARLES (wincing). She 's not so old.
DAME (whose mind is probably running on
breakfast in bed and such-like matters). No, but
at our age we are fond of of quiet, and I doubt
she doesn't get it.
CHARLES. I know she doesn't.
DAME (stumbling among fine words which
attract her like a display of drapery). She says
it 's her right to be out of the hurly-burly and
into what she calls the delicious twilight of
CHARLES (with dizzying thoughts in his brain).
If she is so fond of it, isn't it a shame she, should
have to give it up ?
DAME. The living here ?
CHARLES. Not so much that as being middle-
DAME. Give up being middle-aged ! How
could she do that ?
(He is saved replying by MRS. PAGE, who
calls from the bedroom.)
122 * ROSALIND
MRS. PAGE. Dame, I hear you talking, and
you promised to go at once.
( The DAME apologises, and is off. CHARLES
is left alone with his great resolve, which
is no less than to do one of the fine things
of history. It carries him toward the bed-
room door, but not quickly ; one can also
see that it has a rival who is urging him to
fly the house.)
CHARLES (with a drum beating inside him).
Beatrice, I want to speak to you at once.
MRS. PAGE (through the closed door). As soon
as I have packed my bag.
CHARLES (finely). Don't pack it.
MRS. PAGE. I must.
CHARLES. I have something to say.
MRS. PAGE. I can hear you.
CHARLES (who had been honourably mentioned
for the school prize poem). Beatrice, until now
I hadn't really known you at all. The girl I
was so fond of, there wasn't any such girl.
MRS. PAGE. Oh yes, indeed there was.
CHARLES (now in full sail for a hero's crown).
There was the dear woman who was Rosalind,
but she had tired of it. Rosalind herself grew
old and gave up the forest of Arden, but there
was one man who never forgot the magic of her
being there ; and I shall never forget yours.
(Strange that between the beatings of the drum he
should hear a little voice within him calling, ' Ass,
Charles, you ass ! ' or words to that effect. But
he runs nobly on.) My dear, I want to be your
Orlando to the end. (Surely nothing could be
grander. He is chagrined to get no response
beyond what might be the breaking of a string.)
Do you hear me ?
MRS. PAGE. Yes. (A brief answer, but he is
CHARLES. I will take you out of that hurly-
burly and accompany you into the delicious
twilight of middle-age. I shall be staid in
manner so as not to look too young, and I will
make life easy for you in your declining years.
(''Ass, Charles, you ass ! ') Beatrice, do come out.
MRS. PAGE. I am coming now. (She comes
out carrying her bag.) You naughty Charles, I
heard you proposing to mamma.
(The change that has come over her is far
too subtle to have grown out of a wish to
surprise him, but its effect on CHARLES is
as if she had struck him in the face.
Too subtle also to be only an affair of
clothes, though she is now in bravery hot
from Mdme. Make-the-woman, tackle by
Monsieur, a Rosalind cap jaunty on her
head, her shoes so small that one wonders if
she ever has to light a candle to look for her
feet. She is a tall, slim young creature,
easily breakable ; svelte is the word that
encompasses her as we watch the flow of
her figure, her head arching on its long
stem, and the erect shoulders that we seem,
God bless us, to remember as a little hunched.
Her eyes dance with life but are easily
startled, because they are looking fresh
upon the world, wild notes in them as from
the woods. Not a woman this but a maid,
or so it seems to CHARLES.
She has been thinking very little about
him, but is properly gratified by what she
reads in his face.)
Do I surprise you as much as that, Charles ?
(She puts down her bag, BEATRICE PAGE'S
famous bag. If you do not know it, you
do not, alas, know BEATRICE. It is seldom
out of her hand, save when cavaliers have
been sent in search of it. She is always
late for everything except her call, and at
the last moment she sweeps all that is most
precious to her into the bag, and runs.
Jewels ? Oh no, pooh ; letters from no-
bodies, postal orders for them, a piece of
cretonne that must match she forgets what,
bits of string she forgets why, a book given
her by darling What 's-his-name, a broken
miniature, part of a watch-chain, a dog's
collar, such a neat parcel tied with ribbon
(golden gift or biscuits ? she means to
find out some day), a purse, but not the
right one, a bottle of frozen gum, and
a hundred good-natured, scatter-brained
things besides. Her servants (who all
adore her) hate the bag as if it were a little
dog ; swains hate it because it gets lost
and has to be found in the middle of a
declaration ; managers hate it because she
carries it at rehearsals, when it bursts
open suddenly like a too tightly laced lady,
and its contents are strewn on the stage ;
authors make engaging remarks about it
until they discover that it has an artful
trick of bursting because she does not know
her lines. If you complain, really furious
this time, she takes you all in her arms.
Well, well, but what we meant to say was
that when BEATRICE sees CHARLES'S sur-
prise she puts down her bag.)
CHARLES. Good God ! Is there nothing real
in life ?
(She curves toward him in one of those
swallow-flights which will haunt the stage
long after BEATRICE PAGE is but a memory.
What they say and how they said it soon
passes away ; what lives on is the pretty
movements like BEATRICE'S swallow-flights.
All else may go, but the pretty movements
remain and play about the stage for ever.
They are the only ghosts of the theatre.)
MRS. PAGE. Heaps of things. Rosalind is
real, and I am Rosalind ; and the forest of
Arden is real, and I am going back to it ; and
cakes and ale are real, and I am to eat and
drink them again. Everything is real except
(She puts her hand on his shoulder in the
old, dangerous, kindly, too friendly way.
That impulsive trick of yours, madam,
has a deal to answer for.)
CHARLES. But you said
(She flings up her hands in mockery ;
they are such subtle hands that she can
stand with her back to you, and, put-
ting them behind her, let them play the
MRS. PAGE. I said ! (She is gone from him
in another flight.) I am Rosalind and I am
going back. Hold me down, Charles, unless
you want me to go mad with glee.
CHARLES (gripping her). I feel as if in the
room you came out of you have left the woman
who went into it five minutes ago.
MRS. PAGE (slipping from him as she slips from
all of u$). I have, Charles, I have. I left the
floppy, sloppy old frump in a trunk to be carted
to the nearest place where they store furniture ;
and I tell you, my friend (she might have said
friends, for it is a warning to the Charleses of
every age), if I had a husband and children I
would cram them on top of the cart if they
sought to come between me and Arden.
CHARLES (with a shiver). Beatrice !
MRS. PAGE. The stage is waiting, the audience
is calling, and up goes the curtain. Oh, my
public, my little dears, come and foot it again
in the forest, and tuck away your double
CHARLES. You said you hated the public.
MRS. PAGE. It was mamma said that. They
are my slaves and my playthings, and I toss
them nuts. (He knows not how she got there,
but for a moment of time her head caressingly
skims his shoulder, and she is pouting in his face.)
Every one forgives me but you, Charles, every
one but you.
CHARLES (delirious). Beatrice, you unutter-
MRS. PAGE (worlds away). Don't forgive me
if you would rather not,
Here 's a sigh to those who love me,
And a smile to those who hate.
CHAKLES (pursuing her). There is no one like
you on earth, Beatrice. Marry me, marry me
(as if he could catch her).
MRS. PAGE (cruelly). As a staff for my de-
clining years ?
CHARLES. Forget that rubbish and marry
me, you darling girl.
MRS. PAGE. I can't and I won't, but I 'm
glad I am your darling girl. (Very likely she is
about to be delightful to him, but suddenly she sees
her spoil-sport of a bag.) I am trusting to you not
to let me miss the train.
CHARLES. I am coming with you all the way
(as if she needed to be told). We had better be
MRS. PAGE (seizing the bag). Charles, as we
run to the station we will stop at every telegraph
post and carve something sweet on it ' From
the East to Western Ind '
CHARLES (inspired). 4 No jewel is like Rosa-
MRS. PAGE. ' Middle-age is left behind J
CHARLES. 4 For ever young is Rosalind.'
Oh, you dear, Motley 's the only wear.
MRS. PAGE. And all the way up in the train,
Charles, you shall woo me exquisitely. Nothing
will come of it, but you are twenty -three again,
and you will have a lovely time.
CHARLES. I '11 win you, I '11 win you.
MRS. PAGE. And eventually you will marry
the buxom daughter of the wealthy tallow-
CHARLES. Never, I swear.
MRS. PAGE (screwing her nose). And bring
your children to see me playing the Queen in
(Here CHARLES ROCHE, bachelor, kisses
the famous BEATRICE PAGE. Another
sound is heard.)
CHARLES. The whistle of the train.
MRS. PAGE. Away, away ! 'Tis Touchstone
calling. Fool, I come, I come. (To bedroom
door) Ta-ta, mamma.
(They are gone.)
The scene is any lawyer's office.
It may be, and no doubt will be, the minute repro-
duction of some actual office, with all the characteristic
appurtenances thereof, every blot of ink in its proper
place ; but for the purpose in hand any bare room
would do just as well. The only thing essential to
the room, save the two men sitting in it, is a framed
engraving on the wall of Queen Victoria, which dates
sufficiently the opening scene, and will be changed
presently to King Edward; afterwards to King
George, to indicate the passing of time. No other
alteration is called for. Doubtless different furniture
came in, and the tiling of the fireplace was renewed,
and at last some one discovered that the flowers in the
window-box were dead, but all that is as immaterial
to the action as the new blue-bottles ; the succession of
monarchs will convey allegorically the one thing
necessary, that time is passing, but that the office of
Devizes, Devizes, and Devizes goes on.
The two men are Devizes Senior and Junior.
134 THE WILL
Senior, who is middle-aged, succeeded to a good thing
years ago, and as the cwrtain rises we see him bent over
his table making it a better thing. It is pleasant to
think that before he speaks he adds another thirteen
and fourpence, say, to the fortune of the firm.
Junior is quite a gay dog, twenty-three, and we
catch him skilfully balancing an office ruler on his
nose. He is recently from Oxford
If you show him in Hyde Park, lawk, how they will
Tho' a very smart figure in Bloomsbury Square.
Perhaps Junior is a smarter figure in the office
(among the clerks) than he was at Oxford, but this is
one of the few things about him that his shrewd father
does not know.
There comes to them by the only door into the room
a middle-aged clerk called Surtees, who is perhaps
worth looking at, though his manner is that of one who
has long ceased to think of himself as of any import-
ance to either God or man. Look at him again,
however (which few would do), and you may guess
that he has lately had a shock touched a living wire
and is a little dazed by it. He brings a card to
Mr. Devizes, Senior, who looks at it and shakes
THE WILL 135
MR. DEVIZES. ' Mr. Philip Ross.' Don't
SURTEES (who has an expressionless voice).
He says he wrote you two days ago, sir, explain-
ing his business.
MR. DEVIZES. I have had no letter from a
ROBERT. Nor I.
(He is more interested in his feat with the
ruler than in a possible client f but SURTEES
looks at him oddly.)
MR. DEVIZES. Surtees looks as if he thought
(ROBERT obliges by reflecting in the light
ROBERT. Ah, you think it may have been
that one, Surty ?
MR. DEVIZES (sharply). What one ?
ROBERT. It was the day before yesterday.
You were out, father, and Surtees brought me
in some letters. His mouth was wide open.
(Thoughtfully) I suppose that was why I did it.
MR. DEVIZES. What did you do ?
ROBERT. I must have suddenly recalled a
136 THE WILL
game we used to play at Oxford. You try to
fling cards one by one into a hat. It requires
great skill. So I cast one of the letters at
Surtees's open mouth, and it missed him and
went into the fire. It may have been Philip
MR. DEVIZES (wrinkling his brows). Too bad,
ROBERT (blandly). Yes, you see I am out of
SURTEES. He seemed a very nervous person,
sir, and quite young. Not a gentleman of much
ROBERT (airily). Why not tell him to write
MR. DEVIZES. Not fair.
SURTEES. But she
ROBERT. She ? Who ?
SURTEES. There is a young lady with him,
sir. She is crying.
ROBERT. Pretty ?
SURTEES. I should say she is pretty, sir, in
a quite inoffensive way.
ROBERT (for his own gratification). Ha !
THE WILL 137
MR. DEVIZES. Well, when I ring show them in.
ROBERT (with roguish finger). And let this
be a lesson to you, Surty, not to go about your
business with your mouth open. (SURTEES
tries to smile as requested, but with poor success.)
Nothing the matter, Surty ? You seem to
have lost your sense of humour.
SURTEES (humbly enough). I 'm afraid I have,
sir. I never had very much, Mr. Robert.
(He goes quietly. There has been a sup-
pressed emotion about him that makes the
ROBERT. Anything wrong with Surtees,
MR. DEVIZES. Never mind him. I am very
angry with you, Robert.
ROBERT (like one conceding a point in a de-
bating society). And justly.
MR. DEVIZES (frowning). All we can do is to
tell this Mr. Ross that we have not read his letter.
ROBERT (bringing his knowledge of the world
to bear). Is that necessary ?
MR. DEVIZES. We must admit that we don't
know what he has come about.
138 THE WILL
EGBERT (tolerant of his father's limitations).
But don't we ?
MR. DEVIZES. Do YOU ?
ROBERT. I rather think I can put two and
MR. DEVIZES. Clever boy ! Well, I shall
leave them to you.
MR. DEVIZES. Your first case, Robert.
ROBERT (undismayed). It will be as good as
a play to you to sit there and watch me dis-
covering before they have been two minutes in
the room what is the naughty thing that brings
MR. DEVIZES (drily). I am always ready to
take a lesson from the new generation. But
of course we old fogies could do that also.
ROBERT. How ?
MR. DEVIZES. By asking them.
ROBERT. Pooh. What did I go to Oxford
MR. DEVIZES. God knows. Are you ready ?
(MR. DEVIZES rings.)
THE WILL 139
MR. DEVIZES. By the way, we don't know
the lady's name.
ROBERT. Observe me finding it out.
MR. DEVIZES. Is she married or single ?
ROBERT. I '11 know at a glance. And mark
me, if she is married it is our nervous gentleman
who has come between her and her husband ;
but if she is single it is little Wet Face who has
come between him and his wife.
MR. DEVIZES. A Daniel !
(A young man and woman are shown in :
very devoted to each other, though ROBERT
does not know it. Yet it is the one thing
obvious about them ; more obvious than
his cheap suit, which she presses carefully
beneath the mattress every night, or than
the strength of his boyish face. Thinking
of him as he then was by the light of sub-
sequent events one wonders whether if he
had come alone his face might have revealed
something disquieting which was not there
while she was by. Probably not ; it was
certainly already there, but had not yet
reached the surface. With her, too, though
140 THE WILL
she is to be what is called changed before
we see them again, all seems serene ; no
warning signals ; nothing in the way of
their happiness in each other but this
alarming visit to a lawyer's office. The
stage direction might be ' Enter two lovers'
He is scarcely the less nervous of the
two, but he enters stoutly in front of her
as if to receive the first charge. She
has probably nodded valiantly to him
outside the door, where she let go his
ROBERT (master of the situation). Come in,
Mr. Ross (and he bows reassuringly to the lady).
My partner indeed my father. (MR. DEVIZES
bows but remains in the background.)
PHILIP (with a gulp). You got my letter ?
ROBERT. Yes yes.
PHILIP. I gave you the details in it.
ROBERT. Yes, I have them all in my head.
(Cleverly) You will sit down Miss I don't
think I caught the name.
(As much as to say, ' You see, father, I
spotted that she was single at once.')
THE WILL 141
MR. DEVIZES (who has also formed his opinion).
You didn't ask for it, Robert.
ROBERT (airily). Miss ?
PHILIP. This is Mrs. Ross, my wife.
(ROBERT is a little taken aback, and has
a conviction that his father is smiling.)
ROBERT. Ah yes, of course ; sit down,
please, Mrs. Ross.
(She sits as if this made matters rather
PHILIP (standing guard by her side). My wife
is a little agitated.
ROBERT. Naturally. (He tries a 'feeler.')
These affairs very painful at the time but one
EMILY (with large eyes). That is what Mr.
Ross says, but somehow I can't help (the
eyes fill). You see, we have been married only
ROBERT. Ah that does make it yes, cer-
tainly. (He becomes the wife's champion, and
frowns on PHILIP.)
PHILIP. I suppose the sum seems very small
to you ?
142 THE WILL
ROBERT (serenely). I confess that is the im-
pression it makes on me.
PHILIP. I wish it was more.
ROBERT (at a venture). You are sure you
can't make it more ?
PHILIP. How can I ?
ROBERT. Ha !
EMILY (with sudden spirit). I think it 's a
PHILIP. Mrs. Ross is so nice about it.
ROBERT (taking a strong line). I think so.
But she must not be taken advantage of. And
of course we shall have something to say as to
PHILIP (blankly). In what way ? There it is.
ROBERT (guardedly). Hum. Yes, in a sense.
EMILY (breaking down). Oh dear !
ROBERT (more determined than ever to do his
best for this wronged woman). I am very sorry,
Mrs. Ross. (Sternly) I hope, sir, you realise
that the mere publicity to a sensitive woman
PHILIP. Publicity ?
ROBERT (feeling that he has got him on the
run). Of course for her sake we shall try to
THE WILL 143
arrange things so that the names do not appear.
PHILIP. The names ?
(By this time EMILY is in tears.)
EMILY. I can't help it. I love him so.
ROBERT (still benighted). Enough to forgive
him ? (Seeing himself suddenly as a mediator)
Mrs. Ross, is it too late to patch things up ?
PHILIP (now in flame). What do you mean,
MR. DEVIZES (who has been quietly enjoying
himself). Yes, Robert, what do you mean
ROBERT. Really I (he tries brow-beating)
I must tell you at once, Mr. Ross, that unless a
client gives us his fullest confidence we cannot
undertake a case of this kind.
PHILIP. A case of what kind, sir ? If you
are implying anything against my good name
ROBERT. On your honour, sir, is there nothing
against it ?
PHILIP. I know of nothing, sir.
EMILY. Anything against my husband, Mr.
Devizes ! He is an angel.
144 THE WILL
ROBERT (suddenly seeing that little Wet Face
must be the culprit). Then it is you !
EMILY. Oh, sir, what is me ?
PHILIP. Answer that, sir.
ROBERT. Yes, Mr. Ross, I will. (But he
finds he cannot.) On second thoughts I decline.
I cannot believe it has been all this lady's fault,
and I decline to have anything to do with such
a painful ease.
MR. DEVIZES (promptly). Then I will take it up.
PHILIP (not to be placated). I think your son
has insulted me.
EMILY. Philip, come away.
MR. DEVIZES. One moment, please. As I
did not see your letter, may I ask Mr. Ross what
is your business with us ?
PHILIP. I called to ask whether you would
be so good as to draw up my will.
ROBERT (blankly). Your will ! Is that all ?
MR. DEVIZES. Now we know, Robert.
ROBERT. But Mrs. Ross's agitation ?
PHILIP (taking her hand). She feels that to
make my will brings my death nearer.
THE WILL 145
ROBERT. So that 's it !
PHILIP. It was all in the letter.
MR. DEVIZES (coyly). Anything to say,
ROBERT. Most ah extremely (He has
an inspiration.) But even now I 'm puzzled.
You are Edgar Charles Ross ?
PHILIP. No, Philip Ross.
ROBERT (brazenly). Philip Ross ? We have
made an odd mistake, father. (There is a
twinkle in MR. DEVIZES' s eye. He watches
interestedly to see how his son is to emerge from
the mess.) The fact is, Mrs. Ross, we are ex-
pecting to-day a Mr. Edgar Charles Ross on a
matter well of a kind Ah me. (With
fitting gravity) His wife, in short.
EMILY (who has not read the newspapers in vain).
How awful. How sad.
ROBERT. Sad indeed. You will quite under-
stand that professional etiquette prevents my
saying one word more. '
PHILIP. Yes, of course we have no desire
But I did write.
ROBERT. Assuredly. But about a will.
146 THE WILL
That is my father's department. No doubt
you recall the letter now, father ?
MR. DEVIZES (who if he won't hinder won't help).
I can't say I do.
ROBERT (unabashed). Odd. You must have
MR. DEVIZES. Ha. At all events, Mr. Ross,
I am quite at your service now.
PHILIP. Thank you.
ROBERT (stiU ready to sacrifice himself on the
call of duty). You don't need me any more,
MR. DEVIZES. No, Robert ; many thanks.
You run off to your club now and have a bit of
lunch. You must be tired. Send Surtees in to
me. (To his clients) My son had his first case
PHILIP (politely). I hope successfully.
MR. DEVIZES. Not so bad. He rather bungled
it at first, but he got out of a hole rather cleverly.
I think you '11 make a lawyer yet, Robert.
ROBERT. Thank you, father. (He goes
jauntily, with a flower in his button-hole.)
MR. DEVIZES. Now, Mr. Ross.
THE WILL 147
(The young wife's hand goes out for com-
fort and finds PHILIP'S waiting for it.)
PHILIP. What I want myself is that the
will should all go into one sentence, ' I leave
everything of which I die possessed to my
MR. DEVIZES (thawing to the romance of this
young couple). Well, there have been many
worse wills than that, sir.
(EMILY is emotional.)
PHILIP. Don't give way, Emily.
EMILY. It was those words, ' of which I die
possessed.' (Imploring) Surely he doesn't need
to say that please, Mr. Devizes ?
ME. DEVIZES. Certainly not. I am confident
I can draw up the will without mentioning
death at all.
EMILY (huskily). Oh, thank you.
MR. DEVIZES. At the same time, of course,
in a legal document in which the widow is the
(EMILY again needs attention.)
PHILIP (reproachfully). What was the need
of saying ' widow ' ?
148 THE WILL
MR. DEVIZES. I beg your pardon, Mrs. Ross.
I unreservedly withdraw the word ' widow.'
Forgive a stupid old solicitor. (She smiles
gratefully through her tears. SURTEES comes
in.) Surtees, just take a few notes, please.
(SURTEES sits in the background and takes notes.)
The facts of the case as I understand, Mrs. Ross,
are these : Your husband (Quickly) who is in
the prime of health but knows life to be
EMILY. Oh !
MR. DEVIZES. though usually, as we learn
from holy script itself, it lasts seven times
ten years and believing that he will in all
probability live the allotted span, nevertheless,
because of his love of you, thinks it judicious
to go through the form it is a mere form of
making a will.
EMILY (fervently). Oh, thank you.
MR. DEVIZES. Any details, Mr. Ross ?
PHILIP. I am an orphan. I live at Belvedere,
14 Tulphin Road, Hammersmith.
EMILY (to whom the address has a seductive
sound). We live there.
THE WILL 149
PHILIP. And I am a clerk in the employ of
Curar and Gow, the foreign coaling agents.
MR. DEVIZES. Yes, yes. Any private in-
(They cannot help sniggering a little at the
PHILIP. Oh no !
MR. DEVIZES. I see it will be quite a brief
PHILIP (to whom the remark sounds scarcely
worthy of a great occasion). My income is a
MR. DEVIZES. YeS ?
EMILY (important). He has 170 a year.
MR. DEVIZES. Ah.
PHILIP. I began at 60. But it is going up,
Mr. Devizes, by leaps and bounds. Another
15 this year.
MR. DEVIZES. Good.
PHILIP (darkly). I have a certain ambition.
EMILY (eagerly). Tell him, Philip.
PHILIP (with a big breath). We have made
up our minds to come to 365 a year before I
150 THE WILL
EMILY. That is a pound a day.
MB. DEVIZES (smiling sympathetically on them).
So it is. My best wishes.
PHILIP. Thank you. Of course the furnish-
ing took a good deal.
MR. DEVIZES. It Would.
EMILY. He insisted on my having the very
best. (She ceases. She is probably thinking
of her superb spare bedroom.)
PHILIP. But we are not a penny in debt ;
and I have 200 saved.
MR. DEVIZES. I think you have made a brave
EMILY. They have the highest opinion of
him in the office.
PHILIP. Then I am insured for 500.
MR. DEVIZES. I am glad to hear that.
PHILIP. Of course I would like to leave her
a house in Kensington and a carriage and pair.
MR. DEVIZES. Who knows, perhaps you will.
EMILY. Oh !
MR. DEVIZES. Forgive me.
EMILY. What would houses and horses be
to me without him ?
THE WILL 151
MK. DEVIZES (soothingly). Quite so. What
I take Mr. Ross to mean is that when he dies
if he ever should die everything is to go to
his his spouse.
PHILIP (dogged). Yes.
EMILY (dogged). No.
PHILIP (sighing). This is the only difference
we have ever had. Mrs. Ross insists on certain
bequests. You see, I have two cousins, ladies,
not well off, whom I have been in the way of
helping a little. But in my will, how can I ?
MR. DEVIZES. You must think first of your
PHILIP. But she insists on my leaving 50
to each of them.
(He looks appealingly to his wife.)
EMILY (grandly). 100.
EMILY. Dear, 100.
MR. DEVIZES. Let us say 75.
PHILIP (reluctantly). Very well.
EMILY. No, 100.
PHILIP. She '11 have to get her way. Here
are their names and addresses.
152 THE WILL
MR. DEVIZES. Anything else ?
PHILIP (hurriedly). No.
EMILY. The convalescent home, dear. He
was in it a year ago, and they were so kind.
PHILIP. Yes, but
EMILY. 10. (He has to yield, with a re-
proachful, admiring look.)
MR. DEVIZES. Then if that is all, I won't
detain you. If you look in to-morrow, Mr. Ross,
about this time, we shall have everything ready
(Their faces fall.)
EMILY. Oh, Mr. Devizes, if only it could all
be drawn up now, and done with.
PHILIP. You see, sir, we are screwed up to
(' Our fate is in your hands,' they might
be saying, and the lawyer smiles to find
himself such a power.)
MR. DEVIZES (looking at his watch). Well, it
certainly need not take long. You go out and
have lunch somewhere, and then come back.
EMILY. Oh, don't ask me to eat.
PHILIP. We are too excited.
THE WILL 153
EMILY. Please may we just walk about the
ME. DEVIZES (smiling). Of course you may,
you ridiculous young wife.
EMILY. I know it 's ridiculous of me, but
I am so fond of him.
MK. DEVIZES. Yes, it is ridiculous. (Kindly,
and with almost a warning note) But don't
change ; especially if you get on in the world,
PHILIP. No fear !
EMILY (backing from the will, which may now
be said to be in existence). And please don't
give us a copy of it to keep. I would rather
not have it in the house.
MR. DEVIZES (nodding reassuringly). In an
hour's time. (They go, and the lawyer has his
lunch, which is simpler than ROBERT'S : a sand-
wich and a glass of wine. He speaks as he eats.)
You will get that ready, Surtees. Here are
the names and addresses he left. (Cheerily) A
SURTEES (who is hearing another voice). Yes,
154 THE WILL
MR. DEVIZES (unbending). Little romance of
its kind. Makes one feel quite gay.
SURTEES. Yes, sir.
MR. DEVIZES (struck perhaps by the deadness
of his voice). You don't look very gay, Surtees.
SURTEES. I 'm sorry, sir. We can't all be
gay. (He is going out without looking at his
employer.) I '11 see to this, sir.
MR. DEVIZES. Stop a minute. Is there any-
thing wrong ? (SURTEES has difficulty in answer-
ing, and MR. DEVIZES goes to him kindly.) Not
worrying over that matter we spoke about ?
(SURTEES inclines his head.) Is the pain worse ?
SURTEES. It 's no great pain, sir.
MR. DEVIZES (uncomfortably). I 'm sure it 's
not what you fear. Any specialist would tell
SURTEES (without looking up). I have been
to one, sir yesterday.
MR. DEVIZES. Well ?
SURTEES. It 's that, sir.
MR. DEVIZES. He couldn't be sure.
SURTEES. Yes, sir.
MR. DEVIZES. An operation
THE WILL 155
SURTEES. Too late, he said, for that. If I
had been operated on long ago there might
have been a chance.
MR. DEVIZES. But you didn't have it long
SURTEES. Not to my knowledge, sir ; but
he says it was there all the same, always in me,
a black spot, not so big as a pin's head, but
waiting to spread and destroy me in the fulness
of time. All the rest of me as sound as a bell.
(That is the voice that SURTEES has been hearing.)
MR. DEVIZES (helpless). It seems damnably
SURTEES (humbly). I don't know, sir. He
says there 's a spot of that kind in pretty nigh
all of us, and if we don't look out it does for us
in the end.
MR. DEVIZES (hurriedly). No, no, no.
SURTEES. He called it the accursed thing.
I think he meant we should know of it and be
on the watch. (He pulls himself together.) I '11
see to this at once, sir.
(He goes out. MR. DEVIZES continues his
156 THE WILL
The curtain falls here for a moment only,
to indicate the passing of a number of
years. When it rises we see that the en-
graving of Queen Victoria has given way
to one of King Edward.
ROBERT is discovered, immersed in
affairs. He is now a middle-aged man
who has long forgotten how to fling cards
into a hat. To him comes SENNET, a
SENNET. Mrs. Philip Ross to see you, sir.
ROBERT. Mr. Ross, don't you mean, Sennet ?
SENNET. No, sir.
ROBERT. Ha. It was Mr. Ross I was ex-
pecting. Show her in. (Frowning) And, Sennet,
less row in the office, if you please.
SENNET (glibly). It was those young clerks,
ROBERT. They mustn't be young here, or
they go. Tell them that.
SENNET (glad to be gone). Yes, sir.
(He shows in MRS. ROSS. We have not
seen her for twenty years and would certainly
not recognise her in the street. So shrinking
THE WILL 157
her first entrance into this room, but she
sails in now like a galleon. She is not so
much dressed as richly upholstered. She
is very sure of herself. Yet she is not a
different woman from the EMILY we re-
member ; the pity of it is that somehow
this is the same woman.)
ROBERT (who makes much of his important
visitor and is also wondering why she has come).
This is a delightful surprise, Mrs. Ross. Allow
me. (He removes her fine cloak with proper
solicitude, and EMILY walks out of it in the manner
that makes it worth possessing.) This chair, alas,
is the best I can offer you.
EMILY (who is still a good-natured woman if
you attempt no nonsense with her). It will do
ROBERT (gallantly). Honoured to see you in it.
EMILY (smartly). Not you. You were saying
to yourself, ' Now, what brings the woman
here ? '
ROBERT. Honestly, I
EMILY. And I '11 tell you. You are expect-
ing Mr. Ross, I think ?
158 THE WILL
ROBERT (cautiously). Well ah
EMILY. Pooh. The cunning of you lawyers.
I know he has an appointment with you, and
that is why I 've come.
ROBERT. He arranged with you to meet him
EMILY (preening herself). I wouldn't say that.
I don't know that he will be specially pleased
to find me here when he comes.
ROBERT (guardedly). Oh ?
EMILY (who is now a woman that goes straight
to her goal). I know what he is coming about.
To make a new will.
ROBERT (admitting it). After all, not the first
he has made with us, Mrs. Ross.
EMILY (promptly). No, the fourth.
ROBERT (warming his hands at the thought).
Such a wonderful career. He goes from success
EMILY (complacently). Yes, we 're big folk.
ROBERT. You are indeed.
EMILY (sharply). But the last will covered
ROBERT (on guard again). Of course it is a
THE WILL 159
matter I cannot well discuss even with you.
And I know nothing of his intentions.
EMILY. Well, I suspect some of them.
EMILY. And that 's why I 'm here. Just
to see that he does nothing foolish.
(She settles herself more comfortably as
MR. ROSS is announced. A city magnate
walks in. You know he is that before you
see that he is PHILIP ROSS.)
PHILIP (speaking as he enters). How do,
Devizes, how do. Well, let us get at this
thing at once. Time is money, you know,
time is money. (Then he sees his wife.) Hello,
EMILY (unperturbed). You didn't ask me to
come, Philip, but I thought I might as well.
PHILIP. That 's all right.
(His brow had lowered at first sight of her,
but now he gives her cleverness a grin of
EMILY. It is the first will you have made
without taking me into your confidence.
PHILIP. No important changes. I just
160 THE WILL
thought to save you the unpleasantness of
EMILY. How do you mean ?
PHILIP (fidgeting). Well, one can't draw up
a will without feeling for the moment that he
is bringing his end nearer. Is that not so,
ROBERT (who will quite possibly die intestate).
Some do have that feeling.
EMILY. But what nonsense. How can it
have any effect of that kind one way or the
ROBERT. Quite so.
EMILY (reprovingly). Just silly sentiment,
Philip. I would have thought it would be a
pleasure to you, handling such a big sum.
PHILIP (wincing). Not handling it, giving it
EMILY. To those you love.
PHILIP (rather shortly). I 'm not giving it
up yet. You talk as if I was on my last legs.
EMILY (imperturbably). Not at all. It 's you
that are doing that.
ROBERT (to the rescue). Here is my copy of
the last will. I don't know if you would like
me to read it out ?
PHILIP. It 's hardly necessary.
EMILY. We have our own copy at home and
we know it well.
PHILIP (sitting back in his chair). What do
you think I 'm worth to-day, Devizes ?
(Every one smiles. It is as if the sun had
peeped in at the window.)
ROBERT. I daren't guess.
PHILIP. An easy seventy thou.
EMILY. And that 's not counting the house
and the country cottage. We call it a cottage.
You should see it I
ROBERT. I have heard of it.
EMILY (more sharply, though the sun still
shines). Well, go on, Philip. I suppose you
are not thinking of cutting me out of anything.
PHILIP (heartily). Of course not. There will
be more to you than ever.
EMILY (coolly). There 's more to leave.
PHILIP (hesitating). At the same time
EMILY. Well ? It 's to be mine absolutely,
of course. Not just a life interest.
162 THE WILL
PHILIP (doggedly). That is a change I was
EMILY. Just what I have suspected for days.
Will you please to say why ?
ROBERT (whose client after all is the man). Of
course it is quite common.
EMILY. I didn't think my husband was quite
ROBERT. I only mean that as there are
PHILIP. That 's what I mean too.
EMILY. And I can't be trusted to leave my
money to my own children ! In what way
have I ever failed them before ?
PHILIP (believing it too). Never, Emily, never.
A more devoted mother If you have one
failing it is that you spoil them.
EMILY. Then what 's your reason ?
PHILIP (less sincerely). Just to save you
worry when I 'm gone.
EMILY. It 's no worry to me to look after
PHILIP (bridling). After all, it's my
THE WILL 163
EMILY. I knew that was what was at the
back of your mind.
PHILIP (reverently). It 's such a great sum.
EMILY. One would think you were afraid I
would marry again.
PHILIP (snapping). One would think you
looked to my dying next week.
(PHILIP is unable to sit still.)
PHILIP. My money. If you were to invest
it badly and lose it ! I tell you, Devizes, I
couldn't lie quiet in my grave if I thought my
money was lost by injudicious investments.
EMILY (coldly). You are thinking of yourself,
Philip, rather than of the children.
PHILIP. Not at all.
ROBERT (hastily). How are the two children ?
EMILY. Though I say it myself, there never
were better. Harry is at Eton, you know, the
most fashionable school in the country.
ROBERT. Doing well, I hope ?
PHILIP (chuckling). We have the most
gratifying letters from him. Last Saturday
he was caught smoking cigarettes with a
164 THE WILL
lord. (With pardonabk pride) They were sick
ROBERT. And Miss Gwendolen ? She must
be almost grown up now.
(The parents exchange important glances.)
EMILY. Should we tell him ?
PHILIP. Under the rose, you know, Devizes.
ROBERT. Am I to congratulate her ?
EMILY. No names, Philip.
PHILIP. No, no names but she won't be a
plain Mrs., no sir.
ROBERT. Well done, Miss Gwendolen. (With
fitting jocularity) Now I see why you want a
PHILIP. Yes, that 's my main reason,
EMILY. But none of your life interests for
PHILIP (shying). We '11 talk that over pre-
ROBERT. Will you keep the legacies as they
PHILIP. Well, there 's that 500 for the
THE WILL 165
EMILY. Yes, with so many claims on us, is
that necessary ?
PHILIP (becoming stouter). I 'm going to make
EMILY. Philip !
PHILIP. My mind is made up. I want to
make a splash with the hospitals.
ROBERT (hurrying to the next item). There is
50 a year each to two cousins, ladies.
PHILIP. I suppose we '11 keep that as it is,
EMILY. It was just gifts to them of 100
each at first.
PHILIP. I was poor at that time myself.
EMILY. Do you think it 's wise to load them
with so much money ? They '11 not know what
to do with it.
PHILIP. They 're old.
EMILY. But they 're wiry. 75 a year be-
tween them would surely be enough.
PHILIP. It would be if they lived together,
but you see they don't. They hate each other
like cat and dog.
EMILY. That 's not nice between relatives.
166 THE WILL
You could leave it to them on condition that
they do live together. That would be a Chris-
PHILIP. There 's something in that.
ROBERT. Then the chief matter is whether
EMILY. Oh, I thought that was settled.
PHILIP (with a sigh). I '11 have to give in to
ROBERT. Very well. I suppose my father
will want to draw up the will. I 'm sorry he
had to be in the country to-day.
EMILY (affable now that she has gained her
point). I hope he is wearing well ?
ROBERT. Wonderfully. He is away playing
PHILIP (grinning). Golf. I have no time for
games. (Considerately) But he must get the
drawing up of my will. I couldn't deprive the
old man of that.
ROBERT. He will be proud to do it again.
PHILIP (well satisfied). Ah ! There 's many
a one would like to look over your father's
shoulder when he 's drawing up my will. I
THE WILL 167
wonder what I '11 cut up for in the end. But
I must be going.
EMILY. Can I drop you anywhere ? I have
the greys out.
PHILIP. Yes, at the club.
(Now MRS. ROSS walks into her cloak.)
Good-day, Devizes. I won't have time to look
in again, so tell the old man to come to me.
ROBERT (deferentially). Whatever suits you
best. (Ringing.) He will be delighted. I
remember his saying to me on the day you made
your first will
PHILIP (chuckling). A poor little affair that.
ROBERT. He said to me you were a couple
whose life looked like being a romance.
PHILIP. And he was right eh, Emily ?
though he little thought what a romance.
EMILY. No, he little thought what a romance.
(They make a happy departure, and
ROBERT is left reflecting.)
The curtain again falls, and rises im-
mediately, as the engraving shows, on the
same office in the reign of King George.
168 THE WILL
It is a foggy morning and a fire burns
briskly. MR. DEVIZES, SENIOR, arrives for
the day's work just as he came daily for
over half a century. But he has no right
to be here now. A year or two ago they
got him to retire, as he was grown feeble ;
and there is an understanding that he does
not go out of his house alone. He has, as
it were, escaped to-day, and his feet have
carried him to the old office that is the home
of his mind. He was almost portly when
we saw him first, but he has become little
again and as light as the schoolboy whose
deeds are nearer to him than many of the
events of later years. He arrives at the
office, thinking it is old times, and a clerk
surveys him uncomfortably from the door.
CREED (not quite knowing what to do). Mr.
Devizes has not come in yet, sir.
MR. DEVIZES (considering). Yes, I have. Do
you mean Mr. Robert ?
CREED. Yes, sir.
MR. DEVIZES (querulously). Always late.
THE WILL 169
Can't get that boy to settle down. (Leniently)
Well, well, boys will be boys eh, Surtees ?
CREED (wishing MR. ROBERT would come).
My name is Creed, sir.
MR. DEVIZES (sharply). Creed ? Don't know
you. Where is Surtees ?
CREED. There is no one of that name in the
MR. DEVIZES (growing timid). No ? I re-
member now. Poor Surtees ! (But his mind
cannot grapple with troubles.) Tell him I want
him when he comes in.
(He is changing, after his old custom, into
an office coat.)
CREED. That is Mr. Dev Mr. Robert's coat,
MR. DEVIZES. He has no business to hang
it there. That is my nail.
CREED. He has hung it there for years, sir.
MR. DEVIZES. Not at all. I must have it.
Why does Surtees let him do it ? Help me into
my office coat, boy.
(CREED helps him into the coat he has
taken off, and the old man is content.)
170 THE WILL
CREED (seeing him lift up the correspondence).
I don't think Mr. Devizes would like you to
open the office letters, sir.
MR. DEVIZES (pettishly). What 's that ? Go
away, boy. Send Surtees.
(To the relief of CREED, ROBERT arrives,
and, taking in the situation, signs to the
clerk to go. He has a more youthful
manner than when last we saw him has
ROBERT, but his hair is iron grey. He is
kindly to his father.)
ROBERT. You here, father ?
MR. DEVIZES (after staring at him). Yes, you
are Robert. (A little frightened.) You are an
old man, Robert.
ROBERT (without wincing). Getting on, father.
But why did they let you come ? You haven't
been here for years.
MR. DEVIZES (puzzled). Years ? I think I
just came in the old way, Robert, without
ROBERT. Yes, yes. I '11 get some one to go
home with you.
MR. DEVIZES (rather abject). Let me stay,
THE WILL 171
Robert. I like being here. I won't dis-
turb you. I like the smell of the office,
ROBERT. Of course you may stay. Come
over to the fire. (He settles Ms father by the
fire in the one arm-chair.) There ; you can have
a doze by the fire.
MR. DEVIZES. A doze by the fire. That is
all 1 5 m good for now. Once but my son hangs
his coat there now. (Then he looks up fearfully .)
Robert, tell me something in a whisper : Is
Surtees dead ?
ROBERT (who has forgotten the name). Surtees ?
MR. DEVIZES. My clerk, you know.
ROBERT. Oh, why, he has been dead this
thirty years, father.
MR. DEVIZES. So long. Seems like yesterday.
ROBERT. It is just far back times that seem
clear to you now.
MR. DEVIZES (meekly). Is it ?
(ROBERT opens his letter s, and his father
falls asleep. CREED comes.)
CREED. Sir Philip Ross.
(The great SIR PHILIP enters, nearly sixty
172 THE WILL
now, strong of frame still, but a lost man.
He is in mourning, and carries the broken
pieces of his life with an air of braggadocio.
It should be understood that he is not a
1 sympathetic ' part, and any actor who
plays him as such will be rolling the play
in the gutter.)
ROBERT (on his feet at once to greet such a
client). You, Sir Philip ?
PHILIP (head erect). Here I am.
ROBERT (because it will out). How are you ?
PHILIP (as if challenged). I 'm all right
great. (With defiant jocularity) Called on the
ROBERT. To make another will ?
PHILIP. You 've guessed it the very first
time. (He sees the figure by the fire.)
ROBERT. Yes, it 's my father. He 's dozing.
Shouldn't be here at all. He forgets things.
It 's just age.
PHILIP (grimly). Forgets things. That must
ROBERT (conventionally). I should like, Sir
Philip, to offer you my sincere condolences. In
THE WILL 173
the midst of life we are How true that is.
I attended the funeral.
PHILIP. I saw you.
ROBERT. A much esteemed lady. I had a
great respect for her.
PHILIP (almost with relish). Do you mind,
when we used to come here about the will,
somehow she we always took for granted I
should be the first to go ?
ROBERT (devoutly). These things are hid
from mortal eyes.
PHILIP (with conviction). There 's a lot hid.
We needn't have worried so much about the
will if well, let us get at it. (Fiercely) I haven't
given in, you know.
ROBERT. We must bow our heads
PHILIP. Must we ? Am I bowing mine ?
ROBERT (uncomfortably). Such courage in
the great hour yes and I am sure Lady
PHILIP (with the ugly humour that has come to
him). She wasn't that.
ROBERT. The honour came so soon after-
wards I feel she would like to be thought of
174 THE WILL
as Lady Ross. I shall always remember her
as a fine lady richly dressed who used
PHILIP (harshly). Stop it. That 's not how
I think of her. There was a time before that
she wasn't richly dressed (he stamps upon his
memories). Things went wrong, I don't know
how. It 's a beast of a world. I didn't come
here to talk about that. Let us get to work.
ROBERT (turning with relief from the cemetery).
Yes, yes, and after all life has its compensations.
You have your son who
PHILIP (snapping). No, I haven't. (This
startles the lawyer.) I 'm done with him.
ROBERT. -If he has been foolish
PHILIP. Foolish ! (Some dignity comes into
the man.) Sir, I have come to a pass when
foolish as applied to my own son would seem
to me a very pretty word.
ROBERT. Is it as bad as that ?
PHILIP. He 's a rotter.
ROBERT. It is very painful to me to hear
you say that.
PHILIP. More painful, think you, than for
me to say it ? (Clenching his fists) But I 've
THE WIL-L 175
shipped him off. The law had to wink at it,
or I couldn't have done it. Why don't you
say I pampered him and it serves me right ?
It 's what they are all saying behind my back.
Why don't you ask me about my girl ? That 's
another way to rub it in.
ROBERT. Don't, Sir Philip. I knew about
her. My sympathy
PHILIP. A chauffeur ! that is what he was.
The man who drove her own car.
ROBERT. I was deeply concerned
PHILIP. I want nobody's pity. I 've done
with both of them, and if you think I 'm a
broken man you 're much mistaken. I '11 show
them. Have you your papers there ? Then
take down my last will. I have everything in
my head. I '11 show them.
ROBERT. Would it not be better to wait till
PHILIP. Will you do it now, or am I to go
across the street ?
ROBERT. If I must.
PHILIP. Then down with it. (He wets his
?.) I, Philip Ross, of 77 Bath Street, W.,
176 THE WILL
do hereby revoke all former wills and testa-
ments, and I leave everything of which I die
ROBERT. Yes ?
PHILIP. Everything of which I die possessed
ROBERT. Yes ?
PHILIP. I leave it I leave it (The game
is up.) My God, Devizes, I don't know what
to do with it.
ROBERT. I I really come
PHILIP (cynically). Can't you make any sug-
ROBERT. Those cousins are dead, I think ?
PHILIP. Years ago.
ROBERT (troubled). In the case of such a large
PHILIP (letting all his hoarded gold run through
his fingers). The money I 've won with my
blood. God in heaven. (Showing his teeth.)
Would that old man like it to play with ? If
I bring it to you in sacks, will you fling it out of
the window for me ?
ROBERT. Sir Philip !
PHILIP (taking a paper from his pocket) Here,
THE WILL 177
take this. It has the names and addresses of
the half-dozen men I 've fought with most for
gold ; and I Ve beaten them. Draw up a will
leaving all my money to be divided between
them, with my respectful curses, and bring it
to my house and I '11 sign it.
ROBERT (properly shocked). But really I can't
PHILIP. Either you or another ; is it to be
ROBERT. Very well.
PHILIP. Then that 's settled. (He rises with
an ugly laugh. He regards MR. DEVIZES quizzi-
cally.) So you weren't in at the last will after
all, old Sleep by the Fire.
(To their surprise the old man stirs.)
MR. DEVIZES. What 's that about a will ?
ROBERT. You are awake, father ?
MR. DEVIZES (whose eyes have opened on PHILIP'S
face). I don't know you, sir.
ROBERT. Yes, yes, father, you remember
Mr. Ross. He is Sir Philip now.
MR. DEVIZES (courteously). Sir Philip ? I
wish you joy, sir, but I don't know you.
178 THE WILL
ROBERT (encouragingly). Ross, father.
MR. DEVIZES. I knew a Mr. Ross long ago.
ROBERT. This is the same.
MR. DEVIZES (annoyed). No, no. A bright
young fellow he was, with such a dear, pretty
wife. They came to make a will. (He chuckles.)
And bless me, they had only twopence halfpenny.
I took a fancy to them ; such a happy pair.
ROBERT (apologetically). The past is clearer
to him than the present nowadays. That will
PHILIP (brusquely). Let him go on.
MR. DEVIZES. Poor souls, it all ended un-
happily, you know.
PHILIP (who is not brusque to him). Yes, I
know. Why did things go wrong, sir ? I sit
and wonder, and I can't find the beginning.
MR. DEVIZES. That 's the sad part of it.
There was never a beginning. It was always
there. He told me all about it.
ROBERT. He is thinking of something else ;
I don't know what.
PHILIP. Quiet. What was it that was always
THE WILL 179
MR. DEVIZES. It was always in them & spot
no bigger than a pin's head, but waiting to
spread and destroy them in the fulness of time.
ROBERT. I don't know what he has got hold
PHILIP. He knows. Could they have done
anything to prevent it, sir ?
MR. DEVIZES. If they had been on the watch.
But they didn't know, so they weren't on the
watch. Poor souls.
PHILIP. Poor souls.
MR. DEVIZES. It 's called the accursed thing.
It gets nearly everybody in the end, if they
don't look out.
(He sinks back into his chair and forgets
ROBERT. He is just wandering.
PHILIP. The old man knows.
(He slowly tears up the paper he had given
ROBERT (relieved). I am glad to see you do
PHILIP. A spot no bigger than a pin's head.
(A wish wells up in him, too late perhaps.) I
180 THE WILL
wish I could help some young things before
that spot has time to spread and destroy them
as it has destroyed me and mine.
ROBERT (brightly). With such a large for-
PHILIP (summing up his life). It can't be
done with money, sir.
(He goes away ; God knows where.)
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